Heritage is defined as valued objects or qualities passed down from one generation to the next. Sit down and visit with retired Tulsa Tech instructor Paul King and you can hear the importance of heritage to him. King spent more than three decades in Career and Technical Education. Now instead of teaching graphic design and illustration, he is sharing his artwork.
“Growing up, I am Oklahoma Choctaw; we did not do too many cultural things,” King said. “I am learning more about my culture to share it with my grandkids and leave a legacy.”
November is National Native American Heritage Month. The month celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments, heritage and rich cultures of Native American tribes.
The work on his website shows his love and skill. The pieces range from that of service to sports and American Indian heritage. King also includes a little thought about what each drawing means.
“People look at art and have their interpretation,” King said. “I just want to give the artist point of view about why I created something.”
King uses this creative vision to highlight the techniques or the symbolism lost from one person to the other. King says it is not always about just telling a story but finding a creative way to communicate.
“I did not celebrate my heritage as a child, so a lot of the images I use are part of Choctaw history,” King said. “I then make it a collage or montage as a way to learn more about my culture and share that history with my family. My art is not just about the Choctaw symbols, but it is about my family; they are all Choctaws.”
King also emphasizes history, telling stories that, for some, are unknown. He has one drawing honoring the Choctaw Code Talkers during World War 1. Unlike their Navajo brethren of World War II, these soldiers’ stories are rarely told. Something King described as the “Indian Way.”
“They didn’t tell their families;they didn’t come back as heroes even though they were,” King said. “They just went about their business when they got back.”
King and other Native American artists have a show coming up in December at the Glenpool Expo Center. You can see more of his art on his website. But do not try and get King to pick a favorite, when asked he was quick to respond, “No, they are all favorites.”
If you want to express your creative ideas as a career, learn from professionals with experience in the industry. Log on to tulsatech.edu and find full-time career training or adult part-time classes that fit you.