A new exhibition, “Fritz Scholder: Beyond Stereotypes,” opens May 15 at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. The exhibition features 10 prints and one painting from Scholder’s revolutionary “Indian” series, illustrating Scholder’s radical imagery of modern-day Indigenous life. The exhibition will be open on the Museum’s second floor through Nov. 7.
“Through his paintings and prints, Scholder challenged the popular stereotypical depictions of Native Americans within the world of fine art,” said exhibition curator Catherine Shotick. “The stereotypical depictions, which often cast Indigenous subjects as uncivilized, tragic or a mere curiosity, helped justify the genocide, forced relocations and continued disenfranchisement of Indigenous peoples.”
“With his ‘Indian’ series, Scholder sought to replace the tourist-approved narratives perpetuated by white artists with the realities he witnessed every day,” Shotick continued. “By combining realism and spirituality with vivid colors and expressive brushstrokes, Scholder challenged assumptions about Indigenous people and pushed beyond the stereotypes.”
Scholder was born in Minnesota in 1937, and by 1964 was teaching painting and art history at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. An enrolled member of the Luiseño tribe, Scholder influenced a generation of Native American students during his time in New Mexico.
After relocating to Santa Fe, Scholder said he saw one too many over-romanticized and generalized depictions of Indigenous people “looking at the sunset” and decided someone should “paint the Indian from a different context.”
In 1970, he was invited to collaborate with the Tamarind Institute, where he created his first print portfolio, “Indians Forever.” He continued to work in lithography throughout his career, creating a distinct body of work through experimentations in line and color. He died in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2005.
The Museum is currently operating with timed ticketing and is open Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.