The 51st Street Speakeasy in Oklahoma City will host an indigenous fashion, art and music show at 7 p.m. July 26. It will be a way for Joshua Garrett, an employee at Edmond’s Ida Freeman Elementary School, to showcase his art.
Garrett has drawn from his Muscogee and Seminole Indian descent to create various forms of artwork.
“My mother, aunts and uncles didn't really speak the language,” he said. “So growing up, I had no knowledge of my cultural heritage. After my grandfather died I began teaching myself the language again. I incorporate this cultural knowledge through various mediums of art.”
Garrett, who also goes by the artist name Dead Feather, has made 13 masks.
“These are 13 deities that the Muscogee Creek acknowledged,” he said.
In addition to the masks and painting, he makes Este Lobutke Dolls, which translates to Little People.
“The Little People would guide the shaman to the proper plants and herbs to work their medicine on the tribe/community,” Garrett said. “I also sculpt Indian bust incense burners and have a children's/adult A-Z book called Nakcokv Mvskoke (Muscogee Book) which teaches the reader to speak some basic Creek words.”
Garrett also finished a poetry/short film script translated in Creek.
“The idea is to constantly educate myself and whoever might listen, about Muscogee Creek history, which is really Oklahoma history,” Garrett said.
At Ida Freeman Elementary Garrett works with the behavior modification program.
“I basically help out with students who might need an extra hand getting through the day as well as assist teachers in the classroom whenever they might need help,” he said.
The school allowed Garrett to give a Muscogee Creek history during their 89er Day plan, an activity when third graders go to a park and recreate the Land Run of 1889.
“I think a teacher was in need of someone who knew a little bit of Native American History of some sort,” he said. “I guess I was the chosen one.”
Garret also heads up a monthly art club along with a 5th grade art teacher.
“We opened up our Jaguar Art Gallery a couple of years ago. We basically pick an artist for the month and mimic their style then display the masterpieces in the gallery for all to see,” he said. “A percentage of my art sales and donations will go to help with getting art supplies.”
The artist also has what he believes is called “nerve deafness,” where sound is a sort of muffled noise. To communicate, he reads lips.
“I draw a lot for the students. Random cartoon characters or whatever they might request,” Garrett said. “If we have trouble communicating, we just spell it out on paper and go from there. If someone is trying to get my attention the students just let me know. They’re super helpful.”
The event at 51st Street Speakeasy is titled Dead Feather Presents Indian Summer, An Evening of Indigenous Fashion, Art & Music. The Dead Feather Art Show and a Poetry Reading begins at 7 p.m., while the Indigenous Fashion Show is at 8:30 p.m. The 51st Street Speakeasy is at 1114 N.W. 51st St.