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heather ahtone

(Chickasaw citizen, Choctaw) 

Senior Curator

American Indian Cultural Center Foundation (AICCF)

heather ahtone is the Senior Curator at the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum (AICCM) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She has worked in the Native arts community since 1993 and has an established career as a curator, arts writer, and researcher. ahtone completed her associate’s degree in Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts (1993), ahtone previously served from 2012-2018 as the James T. Bialac Associate Curator of Native American and Non-Western Art for the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma. She began teaching at the University of Oklahoma in 2007, serving as an adjunct professor at the OU School of Art and Art History teaching in the Native Art History program. She joined OU’s School of Geology and Geophysics as a Research Associate, where she helped build a geology/meteorology course, “Native Science,” that uses Indigenous American cultural knowledge to teach earth systems science. This course was part of a National Science Foundation GeoDiversity project that ahtone managed. The project’s outreach program to rural Native students in Oklahoma spurred her to initiate a Native American Science Club at OU for local secondary school students, which she continued until 2017.

Her research focus has shifted in the last ten years to explore the intersection between tribal cultural knowledge and contemporary Indigenous artists through the art materializing this relationship. ahtone has also worked with the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum and the Southwestern Association of Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as well as for Ralph Appelbaum Associates in New York. She has earned a bachelor’s degree in Printmaking at the University of Oklahoma (OU, 2000), master’s degree in Art History (OU, 2006), and a doctoral degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in Art History, Anthropology, Native American Studies. (OU, 2018). She has published numerous essays for journals and exhibition catalogues, including Indian Market Magazine, International Journal of Arts in Society, Wicazo Sa, and for the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. Her 2013 exhibition, Hopituy: Hopi Art From the Permanent Collections, received positive scholarly reviews and publication awards. In 2015, she presented Enter the Matrix: Indigenous Printmakers, an exhibition that explored the medium of printmaking and the Indigenous artists who use it internationally. This exhibition was selected by First American Art Magazine as one of the top ten Native art events in the Americas. In 2017 ahtone’s work with Navajo photographer Will Wilson to create the body of imagery was exhibited in PHOTO/SYNTHESIS at the FJJMA. She is a member of the Chickasaw Nation and also of Choctaw descent with relatives in the Kiowa community.

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