This month we feature the work of North Carolina Artist and Activist Lloyd Oxendine (1942-2015)
The artist activist Lloyd Oxendine. 2006 photo by Charles Giuliano
Lloyd Oxendine’s talent as a painter was recognized while he was just a youth. During his high-school years in North Carolina Emma Lawsen, an acknowledged painter and art teacher, began nurturing his emerging talent. His early work caught the attention of Claude Howell, one of North Carolina’s pre-eminent artists. He received a painting scholarship to the University of North Carolina (Wilmington) to study with Mr. Howell. Oxendine’s desire, to further develop his craft and to understand its history, led him to New York City where he received a BA in Art History from Columbia University. He simultaneously studied painting at the Art Students League under the tutelage of Theodore Stamos. Lloyd continued his studies on a graduate level and received a MFA from the School of the Arts, Columbia University. In 1973, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the London School of Design for the excellence of his work.
Oxendine, a member of the Lumbee Nation, said “In my case I was born into (1942) and brought up as a part of The Lumbee Nation of North Carolina,” he said. “As opposed to being an orphan. Or someone who was brought up as white or black who may have the blood but not the characteristics. America has done a good job of destroying Indian culture. What’s left are descendants of Indians saying ‘my ancestors were Indians.’ These are often people having little Indian blood. Indians can also be racist. There are Indians who relate to their white or black side. Who can say that those White Indians are not Indians?”
The Lumbee people were recognized by the State but not the Federal government. According to Oxendine, “We were the Civilized Indians,” “With the first Indian college in the late 1800s, Pembroke Normal School, and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke which had more Indian than white students.”
The inspiration for Oxendine’s art is deeply rooted in his love of the ephemeral natural beauty of his childhood home land in North Carolina, the land of his Lumbee ancestors. The brilliant blue North Carolinian skies, the ever changing color spectrum reflected by the interplay of sun light on ocean waters are the source of Oxendine’s powerful painterly use of color. He employs both the color and texture of paint, sometimes using pure pigment and sometimes using layers of sheer color washes to create the fluidity and movement characteristic of his compositions. Oxendine’s constructions and installation pieces are all tributes to and explorations of the elemental powers of the wind and the tides, and metaphorically to the constancy of change in life. Each of them is meticulously designed to move and float on the slightest current of air. These pieces present the viewer with a continually shifting perspective of color, light, shadow, shape and form. He thereby enables these works to create an intimate dialogue directly with the viewer’s experience of them.
Oxendine’s works are part of the permanent collections of many institutions including those of Columbia University, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Pembroke State University, The Antonia Vivaldi Foundation, and The Fashion Group.
Lloyd has described his art by saying, “I’m eclectic. I am constantly accumulating and assimilating experiences and styles as forms of expression…constantly analyzing and reporting a way of seeing into a profounder reality, the Yin and Yang of existence.”
For more information on Lloyd Oxendine and his work visit these links.
- From the Archives: 23 Contemporary Indian Artists – ARTnews.com
- Artist and Activist Lloyd Oxendine (1942-2015)
About The Author: Miriam Oehrlein
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