Osage artists were asked to paint five murals for the Osage Nation’s Wah-Zha-Zhi Early Learning Academies and the Osage Language Immersion School. Wendy Ponca and daughter Alexandra Ponca Stock accepted the offer and were excited to work on such a meaningful project for their Osage People.
Ponca painted the backgrounds on all the paintings and Stock painted the portraiture for each child. They used acrylic paints and made each five feet by eight feet on canvas. The murals took approximately two months to complete.
“These murals captured my heart the minute I saw them. They are truly a gift from Wendy and Alex and a testimony to their talents and dedication to our Osage language,” said Debra Atterberry, ON Strategic Planning and Self-Governance Analyst. “This mother and daughter team spent countless hours to create these historical pieces. Many Osage families will treasure them for many years to come.”
Four of the five murals were given to the Wah-Zha-Zhi Early Learning Academies (WELA) in Skiatook, Hominy, Fairfax and Pawhuska. The fifth mural was given to the Osage Language Immersion School in Pawhuska. The murals represent the Osage Language and the first children to attend these learning establishments, Ponca said. Each painting illustrates what area the children come from in Osage County.
"I think one of the things awesome about this is looking at these faces so much that you fall in love with each one,” Stock said. “With this subject matter these kids are all just so beautiful but these kids are our Osage future, and that makes me hopeful."
The themes are:
Pawhuska WELA: The children who live in the thorny thickets.
Fairfax WELA: The children who live in a hilly area.
Hominy WELA: The children who live in a location with trees.
Skiatook WELA: The children of the middle waters.
Osage Language Immersion school: Children sitting around the drum.
"This is a remarkable work of art by a great Osage artist, Wendy Ponca,” said Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear. “This artwork should be with our Immersion School for many years."
Ponca said the children in the facilities are the future of the Osage Nation.
“One day these children will be able to come back and show their grandchildren that this was what they looked like as a child. It is a historical time that we get to document in regaining our culture and language, and these kids are speaking it among themselves,” Ponca said. “They are all beautiful children.”