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MOPOPE, STEVEN (1898-1974)

One of the most illustrious of the Kiowa artists of the twentieth century, Steven Mopope (Qued Koi, Painted Robe) was a prolific painter. His work is represented in galleries and collections throughout the United States. A descendant of Spaniards and Kiowas, he was born on August 27, 1898, on the Kiowa Reservation in Indian Territory. His maternal grandfather was the great Kiowa warrior Appiatan, and one of his great uncles was Silverhorn (Haungooah). Mopope named Haungooah as his first great art teacher and the second, Sister Olivia at St. Patrick's Mission School. Another great-uncle was Oheltoint, who, with Haungooah, painted on tipis, and produced other Kiowa art pieces. From their work Mopope acquired a wealth of cultural tradition. Kiowa Field Agency Matron Susie Peters provided additional instruction, and later, under the guidance of Professors Edith Mahier and Oscar B. Jacobson, Mopope studied at the University of Oklahoma.

By 1928 the "Five Kiowa Artists" were featured in exhibition in Prague, Czechoslovakia. A now-famous portfolio of silk-screened prints was published in France in 1929. In addition to painting, Mopope was a flute player, an avid dancer, and a farmer. He was one of six Indian artists commissioned to paint murals in a new federal building for the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., along with fellow Kiowa artist James Auchiah. Mopope's mural subject is a ceremonial dance painted in oils, six by sixty feet in dimension. His themes invariably depict cultural aspects of Kiowa life. He was the speaker at the National Folk Festival Conference in Chicago, Illinois, in 1957. His work resides in the collections of the Gilcrease Museum, the Philbrook Museum of Art, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, and the Museum of the American Indian in New York. Mopope died on February 2, 1974, at Fort Cobb, Oklahoma.

SEE ALSO: AMERICAN INDIANS, ART–AMERICAN INDIAN, SPENCER ASAH, JAMES AUCHIAH, JACK HOKEAH, OSCAR JACOBSON, KIOWA, LEDGER ART, LOIS SMOKY, MONROE TSATOKE.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Patrick D. Lester, The Biographical Directory of Native American Painters (Tulsa, Okla.: SIR Publications, 1995). Christine Nelson, "Native American Murals in the Department of the Interior Building," American Indian Art Magazine 20 (Spring 1995).

Mary Jo Watson

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