Kiowa 5 By Peck, James
The Kiowa 5 were a group of Kiowa artists born in Indian Territory (in what is now known as Oklahoma) during the first decade of the 20th century. Stephen Mopope (1898–1974), Jack Hokeah (c. 1900/2–1969), Monroe Tsatoke (1904–1937), James Auchiah (1906–1974), and Spencer Asah (1905/10–1954) were encouraged to paint by relatives, schoolteachers, and Indian Services personnel. In 1926, Oscar Jacobson, head of the University of Oklahoma art department, created a special program for Kiowa artists. Through Jacobson’s influence, from 1928 to 1932, the Kiowa 5 exhibited their paintings at the First International Art Exposition in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and at the 1932 Venice Biennal. These exhibitions, along with a portfolio of the artists’ work titled Kiowa Indian Art, brought the group critical acclaim in America and Europe. Stylistically, their watercolor paintings featured outlined fields of flat colour, with little or no indication of perspective or the third dimension. This flat, linear, decorative style was derived in part from Plains ledger drawings and hide paintings. Their subjects were auto-ethnographic representations of everyday, historically traditional Kiowa life. Their art provided a bridge between Plains ledger art of the late 19th century and the flat Studio Style taught to Indian students by Dorothy Dunn in Santa Fe in the 1930s.