Oklahoma Courtship

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Benjamin Harjo, Jr.

Oklahoma Courtship is a pen and ink piece and an example of how artist Ben Harjo loves to experiment with patterns and shapes. The piece was featured in the July 2011 issue of Distinctly Oklahoma.

A contemporary Seminole-Shawnee artist, Harjo studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico and also holds a bachelor of fine arts from Oklahoma State University. Harjo grew up in Byng, Oklahoma, enjoying comic books and the animations of Walt Disney and Walter Lantz. The playful influence of Lantz’s Woody Woodpecker can sometimes be seen in Harjo’s pieces that tackle serious subjects with a light tone. His abstract designs frequently convey multiple meanings, giving the viewer the opportunity to interpret the content for themselves.

His wife, Barbara Harjo, worked for many years in the Clerk of the Appellate Courts office before retiring to become Ben’s business manager.

His work is included in the collections of the Red Earth Center, the Gilcrease Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian. Harjo has received numerous honors, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native American Art Studies Association, and he was named as an Oklahoma Living Treasure by the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation. His pieces have won Best of Show at the Five Civilized Tribes Museum and the Grand Award at the Red Earth Festival. In 2012, he was inducted into the Oklahoma State University Alumni Hall of Fame. Oklahoma Courtship was purchased for the Oklahoma Judicial Center Collection.