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Choctaw artist to give presentation at St. Luke’s
The event is part of church’s Native American ministry

Some of Karen Clarkson’s artwork. (www.clarksonart.com/Courtesy)

Some of Karen Clarkson’s artwork. (www.clarksonart.com/Courtesy)

Karen Clarkson, Prescott resident and artist of Choctaw descent, will to be at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Saturday, March 16, for a presentation titled “A Choctaw Story of Land and Blood.”

A talk that evolved from an exhibit shown last year at the Coconino Center for the Arts, Clarkson said she uses the paintings she created on top of Choctaw documents, such as birth records and marriage certificates, to bring to life what transpired in history. It all started when she was investigating her genealogy, she said.

“I didn’t find out until I was almost a teenager that my father was Native American, because he was adopted by a white family,” Clarkson said. “I became very interested when I started having children.”

The presentation is part of the church’s Native American Ministry. The mission is to build bridges of understanding through learning, said Monte Anderson, Vestry Liaison for Outreach.

So many people are interested in the Native American people they live around but don’t know their history and what they have gone through, Anderson said. Many who have come to the presentations have said they had no idea and learned quite a bit, he said.

“What’s so interesting about Karen is she ties this in with her art because that’s how she expresses her thoughts,” Anderson said.

Clarkson said she will have some of her work at the presentation as well as a book she illustrated written by a Choctaw man.

She wants to focus on being able to answer people’s questions and give them as much information as they are willing to absorb, she said. Some of that information will be on Native American sovereignty so people can have a better understanding of what it means for the Native Americans to have a sovereign nation along with what they can do in their life when they hear things about Native Americans that might not be true, Clarkson said.

There also are misconceptions about Native Americans, such as the romanticizing of what a Native American woman was, she said. Native American women are seen as diminutive creatures, but she was the backbone and head of the family who managed and took care of the household while the husband went out hunting, Clarkson said. Bringing up children was a family affair that included all the women of the extended family too, she said.

“To most white people, they thought that the child was not being taken care of by the mother and was being neglected,” Clarkson said. “There was this huge campaign to remove Native Americans from their families under the auspices that they weren’t being well taken care of.”

Clarkson’s presentation will be at 10 a.m. at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 2000 Shepherds Lane. For more information on Clarkson, visit www.clarksonart.com.

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