Past Exhibit - The Subjective History of a Tiger: Tony Tiger
(Main Lobby Area, Mullins Library
The first thing a viewer might appreciate about Tony Tiger's exhibit, "The Subjective History of a Tiger," currently on display in Mullins Library, are the colors. Not just black and orange, as one might expect from a tiger, but vibrant and deep crimson reds, yellow ochres, and turquoise blues—all colors that resonate in the American Indian artistic heritage. But that is appropriate, since this particular Tiger is a member of the Sac and Fox Tribe of Oklahoma, and his exhibit is being shown in celebration of American Indian Heritage Month in November.
Another aspect of the art worthy of a viewer's appreciation is the three-dimensional shape of most pieces, which is the result of stretching the canvases over specially-designed wooden frames that Tiger makes himself. One might also admire the fascinating texture of each piece, the lines and swirls and waves that are the result of an artistic technique applied to the paint before it dries.
But the focal point of the art, which viewers will not fail to notice, are the family photos and images embedded in the multi-media collage of each piece, which, according to Tiger, "reflect my subjective view of the history of my ancestry: American Indian." Tiger says, "I draw theme and subject matter from life experiences, history, culture, faith, family, and social observation," and indeed, some of the family photos in pieces such as "Sac and Fox Legacy" and "He Came From the North" are cultural artifacts, documenting such momentous events as a tribal delegation's historic visit to Washington D. C. near the turn of the last century, or an ancestor's gradual migration from Wisconsin through the Midwest to finally settle in Oklahoma. Other works such as "Pilgrims" document personal and quite subjective images, including the artist's own wedding photo with his smiling bride and a childhood snapshot of a beloved brother.
All of these cultural cues coalesce in Tiger's subjective history, which is ultimately nothing more than his view of what is means to be himself. From the wealth and weight of the pieces in the exhibit, what it means to be a Tiger is a subject worthy of an artistic expression that "investigates the wonder of existence." Tiger concludes, "My work is inspired by the rediscovery of being. We are more than mere reflections in the mirror; we are soul and spirit." The spirit of a Tiger makes for an interesting exhibit indeed.
Tiger, born in Los Angeles in 1964, is an enrolled member of the Sac and Fox Tribe of Oklahoma; he is also of Seminole and Muskogee Creek lineage. Tiger earned an Associate of Arts from Seminole State College at Seminole, Oklahoma, a Bachelor of Fine Art from Oklahoma State University at Stillwater, and a Master's of Fine Art from the University of Oklahoma. He currently serves as Director of the Arts at Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma.