[Narrator 1:] It must have been a unique experience for the Czechoslovakian people who gathered at the International Art Exhibition, taking place in Prague in 1928, to view the artwork of five Kiowa Indians from the plains of Oklahoma, some of the first Indian artists to have their work displayed outside their native land. It was an important step in the recognition of Indian art and due to the imagination of one man, an Oklahoman born in Sweden, Oscar Jacobson.
[Narrator 2:]They came to Oklahoma from many nations. Newcomers to a new land, looking for better opportunities, a chance to begin again and what remains is their heritage. A rich heritage, that has become the Oklahoma image.
[Upbeat music plays.]
[Narrator 1:] He was known as the Picasso of the plains and he wasn't even born in the United States, let alone Oklahoma. He was Oscar Jacobson, born in Sweden, and he came to the United States when he was but 13 years old. From his early years, traveling throughout the West and Southwest, Oscar Jacobson formed a vision, an image of this part of America that was quite different from that of anyone else. Young Oscar realized that through drawing and painting, his image of the West was one he could pass one. He had been blessed with a special talent, one that the land itself helped him nurture and develop.
[Narrator 1:] By working hard, Oscar was able to attend Yale University where he studied art. In 1906, he earned his bachelor's degree and realized that he was blessed with another special gift because not only could he transmit his artistic vision to canvas, Oscar Jacobson was one of those special people. He was a born teacher and, as a teacher, Oscar came to Oklahoma to the University of Oklahoma where he became the director of the University's art department.
[Narrator 1:] From his earliest treks through the West, Oscar Jacobson had become fascinated with the art of Native American Indians: their clear, precise vision; their subtle mysticism; their faithful yet dramatic picture of life on the plains. It was because of this interest that in the late 1920's he arranged for five members of the Kiowa tribe to come to the University to paint and study. He found their powers of observation so keen that they didn't need models. Their concept was so strong that touch ups or corrections were never needed. Shortly after their arrival, the University exhibited their work. Their observations of Indian life drew significant interest from American art circles and it was decided that their work should become part of the International Art Exhibition of 1928, in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
[Narrator 1:] The work of the five Kiowas opened to tremendous critical acclaim. It was a new style, a new vision. In the years that followed, Native American Indian art would increase in acclaim and popularity and Oscar Jacobson helped to make it happen.
[Narrator 1:] Throughout his life, Oscar Jacobson continued to support and preserve the art of American Indians both in Oklahoma and the United States and around the world and he continued to paint his particular vision of Oklahoma and the Southwest. As director of the University of Oklahoma School of Art for 30 years, he built a one man department into a faculty of 18. Though he came to Oklahoma from Sweden, Oscar Jacobson represented our state faithfully throughout his life, lecturing, exhibiting and judging art around the world. And Sweden recognized her native son for Oscar Jacobson is listed in the Encyclopedia of Swedish Art. But Oklahoma remembered him too, naming Jacobson Hall at the University of Oklahoma for him. Oscar Jacobson, he painted his images of Oklahoma and in so doing became part of the Oklahoma image.
[Narrator 2:] This program was produced by the Oklahoma Image Project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and brought to you as a public service by this station. Oklahoma Image is sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and the Oklahoma Library Association.
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Part of the Oklahoma Image Statewide Humanities Project, Promoted Newcomers to a New Land book series.
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