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SMOKY, LOIS (1907-1981)

Kiowa artist Lois Smoky (Bougetah, Of The Dawn), was born in western Oklahoma near Anadarko on in 1907. Her father, Enoch Smoky, was a great-nephew of Chief Appiatan. She attended Indian schools and in 1927 studied painting with a small group of Kiowa men at the University of Oklahoma. Smoky credited her artistic discovery to Kiowa Field Matron Susie Peters, Father Aloysius Hitta, Sister Mary Olivia, and Sister Deo Gratias of St. Patrick's Mission School, where Smoky was a student. She also praised her art teacher, Mrs. Willie Baze Lane, an art instructor living in Chickasha, Oklahoma. Accompanied by her mother, Smoky stayed only through 1927 at the university, and when she left, James Auchiah took her place in the group.

Smoky's participation in the Kiowa Five marked the first time in Oklahoma Indian history that a female had studied painting and composed and painted the human figure. Traditionally, women had only painted geometric figures. Because she was the first Indian woman in Oklahoma to step outside of the accepted role of women to paint subjects heretofore exclusive to Plains Indian men, she served as a model to later generations of Indian women artists who wished to do the same. Her images, very similar to those created by Kiowa men, also celebrated the culture and the people. She presented Indian women in traditional Kiowa women's buckskin dresses, and sometimes with children. She, like the male painters, used a flat, two-dimensional approach with no background or foreground. Although her interest in painting continued, her life revolved around her marriage and the raising of her children. Smoky also did intricate beadwork that was reflective of tradition designs and colors. Her work is represented in the collections of the Gilcrease Museum, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, and the Museum of the American Indian in New York. She died February 1, 1981.

SEE ALSO: AMERICAN INDIANS, ART–AMERICAN INDIAN, SPENCER ASAH, JAMES AUCHIAH, JOAN HILL, JACK HOKEAH, OSCAR JACOBSON, RUTHE JONES, KIOWA, STEVEN MOPOPE, MONROE TSATOKE.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Harold Samuels and Peggy Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1976). Mary Jo Watson, "Oklahoma Indian Women and Their Art" (Ph.D. diss., University of Oklahoma, 1993).

Mary Jo Watson

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