Native Music and Art Coming Together for “At the Edge of America” Exhibit


The talented Samantha Crain wrapped up an interesting project in late January that combines her music with another Native artist from Oklahoma, T.C. Cannon. Crain recorded music to supplement the “T.C. Cannon: At The Edge of America” exhibit. T.C. Cannon was a Native American painter, poet, and musician who passed away in 1978.  This exhibit is currently on display at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. The exhibit will be on display at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa this summer.  Crain’s music is a perfect choice to pair with Cannon’s art, both being innovative and influential.

Being talented Native American artists is not the only similarity between Crain and Cannon. Curiosity was the motive behind both of their works of art. “We were both quite interdisciplinary with our creative displays with art, poetry, and music”, says Crain. Before Peabody Essex Museum contacted Crain to participate in the exhibit, she felt as if she was familiar with his spirit already. “I had had T.C.’s painting ‘Beef Issue at Fort Sill’ as the background image on my computer screen for about 6 years.”

T. C. Cannon (1946–1978, Caddo/Kiowa), Beef Issue At Fort Sill. 1973. Acrylic on canvas.

Conserving cultural heritage was important to Cannon and is equally as important for Crain. Cannon’s Native heritage gave him the greatest inspiration for his art. Crain approaches her songwriting with a similar influence in mind. “Underdogs make the best art. Struggle, empathy, desire…these are the feelings that bloom the best art and nobody understands these parts of the human condition better than marginalized populations”, says Crain.

T. C. Cannon (1946–1978, Caddo/Kiowa), Three Ghost Figures, 1970. Oil on canvas. Private Collection. © 2018 Estate of T. C. Cannon. Photo by Dan Kvitka

“Angelus” and “One Who Stands In The Sun” are the two songs that Crain wrote and performed for the T.C. Cannon exhibit. You can hear both on RSU Radio for now and at the T.C. Cannon exhibit when it comes to the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa on July 14.

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