Portrait of the Artist

Wayne Wildcat has painted all his life. He is self taught. He is originally from Coffeyville Kansas.  Wildcat is half Native American, half White.  His father was full blood Euchee, a tribe,  children of the Sun, who once lived in the southeastern United States, before their relocation on the Trail of Tears to Indian Territory, now near Tulsa, Oklahoma.  The government listed them on the Creek rolls.   His mother's family homesteaded in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. Perhaps this mixed ancestry accounts for the balance &  perspective in the portrayal of historic forces in his paintings. 

Wayne  has maintained an artist's studio in Lawrence Kansas for 25 years.  He began exhibiting his art publicly only six years ago.  In that time, he has had 8 one man exhibits.  He was the first to exhibit an epic size painting in the Topeka Kansas Capitol building, except for John Curry. The Strategy  (10'x15')  was on exhibit  the 1999 entire legislative session . For conferences and lectures at the University of Kansas, he has exhibited paintings for Desmond Tutu (Quest for Freedom), Yolanda King, & Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Rhodes (Einstein & Oppenheimer, as Rhodes spoke of The Making of the Atomic Bomb).  The exhibit of The Strategy  and Ceremony  & other paintings transformed the KU Ballroom, for Minority Affairs Graduation Banquets.  He exhibited the Strategy & Ceremony at a National Conference at Haskell Indian Nations University at Lawrence Kansas.  Fall 2000, he was commissioned to create the art, Visions of Leadership,  featured in the Indian Leaders Conference at the University of Kansas, Indigenous Studies Program.

Legislative session 2001, Wildcat had a series of Native American portraits on exhibit in the Topeka Capitol, at Senator Sandy Praegers request. Wildcat was asked by the Lied Center, University of Kansas, to exhibit  his portraits of children from the Indian Boarding schools  in October 2001 while Carlos Nakai & Paul Horn played  flute music.  Wildcat was a part of an Artist Forum with Carlos Nakai and Paul Horn and other Lawrence artists.  Quest for Freedom, a 30 ft. painting of the civil rights struggle, will be on exhibit at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin Texas, fall 2002, in conjunction with a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Museum.  The painting was  on exhibit during the  summer 2001,  at the Lawrence Public Library  for the local public and the curator of the LBJ Presidential Museum to visit it.  Wildcat exhibited his paintings, including a portrait of Langston Hughes, at the International Symposium on Hughes at the University of Kansas, Feb 7-9, 2002 -  Let America be American Again. 

Wildcat paints history and ideas, often by blending realistic portraits into an ideological landscape.  He paints large so that viewers will have to look closely at this moment of history, look into the faces of those whose life and fate he captures. He always paints in oil on canvas or linen, so that the paintings will have a long life, and so that they can be moved to other exhibit sites.  Wildcat believes and hopes that his paintings can actually change history, not merely portray it.

Wildcat‘s art serves as catalyst for history.  The artist mines history for photos, and often finds living relatives.  The artist looks deeply at photographs for information.  Then the research begins, in museums and in the community to find out more about the people and their stories. The process of researching for and creating his art serves as a catalyst for a community to go even deeper into their history.  This is especially true in paintings done as artist in residencies, with student apprentices. The painting records history discovered through his research, but the painting also records a community's experience of discovering and exploring, with one more deeper look at,  their own history.  Public art, created during artist in residencies,  such as his paintings  Central Time, Harmony   and Solidarity   are records of such portrayals of history and the process of community experiences with art & history.  

Wayne Wildcat discusses his paintings with a group of students and teachers form Central Junior High in Lawrence Kansas who visited his one man  Pictures At An Exhibition at the Lawrence Arts Center in 1994. Their school commissioned a Wildcat painting after visiting this exhibit. The Kansas Arts Commission awarded a grant in 1995 for students to raise funds, design, research, and paint the historical mural with Wildcat in 1995-96.

Wayne seen here with Gov. Bill Graves, won The Kansas Governor' s Award, Visual Artist, 1998  

Wayne working on Solidarity as an Artist in Residency at Pittsburg Kansas. The finished work is now on exhibit in The Pittsburg Public Library.

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