Stephen Mopope painter – Kiowa

Published on June 12, 2014 by Carol

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Stephen Mopope – Kiowa Five

(Stephen Mopope was born near Redstone, OK, 28 Aug 1900; d Anadarko, OK, 14 Feb 1974).

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Native American Kiowa painter. He was brought up with full opportunity to participate in Kiowa religious and cultural life.

In his youth, the Feather Dance (the Kiowa version of the Ghost Dance) was still being practised, with symbolic imagery on clothing. The Peyote religion, with its strong designs and colour visions, was also important.

Mopope’s first art teachers were his great-uncles Ohettoint (Oheltoint, Charles O. Buffalo; 1852–1934), a former Fort Marion prisoner. He helped Ohettoint, Silverhorn and others of the family in painting a new version of the ‘Tipi with Battle Pictures’ , and was one of a group of young Kiowas encouraged to draw and paint by Suzie Peters (1873–1965), a government field matron.

Years later, in 1927, she secured their admission to the University of Oklahoma as non-matriculated art students. Oscar B. Jacobson (1882–1966), head of the Art Department, became their mentor and sponsor. Mopope was the most prolific and versatile of the ‘Six Kiowas’.

His subject-matter includes genre scenes, portraits, lyrical and mystical themes, recollections of old ceremonies and, above all, depictions of contemporary dancers . The latter, meticulously crafted, mirror the decorativeness of the colourful costumes while capturing the sense of motion in virtuoso Plains dancers.

In the 1930s, Mopope painted several murals in public buildings in Oklahoma and one in the Department of Interior Building in Washington, DC.

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