Returning the Gift Indigenous Storytelling and Literary Festival
In July 2017, the Native Writers Circle of the Americas will host the 25th anniversary Returning the Gift Indigenous Storytelling and Literary Festival. Over four days, more than a hundred award winning tribal writers, storytellers, and artists will create workshops, dances, staged readings, poetry slams, comedy sketches, documentary films, pedagogical discussions, literary studies, environmental social justice projects, and live art. RTG organizers invite proposals from scholars, artists, activists, writers, policy makers, and community members that connect with our theme for the festival “Gathering at Our Headwaters.” The theme allows us to focus on two main threads during our festival—reflection and clarity. This is our silver anniversary, making it appropriate for us to reflect on the path of the last 25 years in indigenous creative work. What progress has been made in indigenous literature and art? How has the reception of indigenous creatives and their work changed in the publishing, literary, and academic industries? What shifts have occurred in indigenous focused pedagogy, tribal language programs, and the tribal student body?
In addition, paa (water) is a sacred element. It brings life, sustains communities, and inspires countless artists. Indigenous people are all too familiar with the politics of water. The struggle over water figures centrally in self-determination, sovereignty, nationhood, autonomy, resistance, and survival. It is clear with the growing number of legal battles over water rights, continued environmentally destructive acts, the ongoing protests against tar sand pipelines, fracking disposal wells, deep water drilling, pollution levels of the oceans, and the inevitable traumas brought about due to climate change that the need for protective action is growing. Indigenous peoples around the world have formulated innovative and powerful responses to the contamination, exploitation, and theft of water. We wish to honor those responses and further this work as part of our festival. We seek contributions that address the politics of water in any number of diverse historical, political, tribal, or regional contexts. We also seek a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds, including environmental science, social justice, policy, literary, grassroots, activist, historical, and artistic approaches.
Tulsa International Mayfest & Blue Dome Arts Festival - Tulsa, OK
Head to T-Town’s popular downtown area for a spectacular two-for-one special in May. Two of Tulsa’s top arts festivals come to life in the height of springtime’s glory, welcoming hundreds of local and regional artists to Tulsa and ushering in the excitement of family-friendly activities for all. The Tulsa International Mayfest,the headlining art event in Tulsa each year, has been celebrating artistic talent for over 40 colorful years. As an added bonus, the Blue Dome Arts Festival has been added to the mix, proving that it’s more the merrier in Tulsa. Both festivals, located within blocks of one another, guarantee a fantastic time while bringing a unique, distinctive feel to downtown.
The four-day Tulsa International Mayfest attracts over 350,000 people annually and boasts displays from artists worldwide. Artwork from over 120 artists, five indoor galleries and three stages of entertainment are brought out for the masses. Don’t miss the delicious food court stocked with fair food favorites such as funnel cakes, gyros and fresh lemonade. The Blue Dome Arts Festival, in contrast, is held within Tulsa’s Blue Dome Entertainment District, a popular nightlife haven and artistic enclave. This festival, the avant-garde younger sibling to the massive Mayfest, features an impressive collection of local artists and vendors over three days. Visitors are invited to rock out to live music from regional bands or even participate in pottery, blacksmith and belly dancing demonstrations.
May Fair Arts Festival & Midsummer Nights'Fair - Norman, OK
Home to the University of Oklahoma, the city of Norman is known for cultivating a vibrant art community. Boasting monthly 2nd Friday Circuit of Art walks and the acclaimed Firehouse Art Center, this lively college town also celebrates two major art events: the May Fair Arts Festival in early May and Midsummer Nights' Fair in mid-July. Held in historic Andrews Park, the May Fair Arts Festival brings together over 30 artists, live entertainment, artistic demonstrations, a 10K run, children’s activities and a student art show during the one-day event. Come early for a fun-filled day of learning tricks of the trade from sculptors, painters, glassblowers, woodworkers and photographers from Oklahoma and surrounding states.
Held in Norman’s Lions Park, the Midsummer Night’s Fair celebration is a two-day event held annually in the peak of Oklahoma’s sunny summer months. Hosted by the Firehouse Art Center, this event brings together 30 artists from across Oklahoma and Texas. View or purchase everything from vibrant paintings and glass work, to handcrafted jewelry and pottery. Live bands on two separate stages will fill the park with music throughout both days, while the Firehouse Art Center faculty will provide demonstrations of artistic techniques for festival-goers.
Paseo Arts Festival - Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma City’s colorful and historic Paseo Arts District is a work of art unto itself, but the district takes on new life during the annual, two-day Paseo Arts Festival held in May. As Oklahoma City’s oldest district, the Paseo is reminiscent of a Spanish village complete with stucco buildings, clay tile roofs and vivid colors. It is home to nearly 20 art galleries and 60 artists all within a couple blocks walking distance.
More than 75 visual artists come together each May to display their juried works of art at the Paseo Arts Festival. With a variety of mediums and price ranges, enthusiastic collectors and art novices alike will find the perfect piece. Two stages also provide live music and performance art, while children can create their own works of art at the children’s area. During this free event, area restaurants and galleries will be open throughout the festival, urging visitors to pop in and out of these charming local businesses as they make their way along the main thoroughfare.
Downtown Edmond Arts Festival - Edmond, OK
For booths brimming with handmade goods and artistic pieces, delicious food, fun activities and toe-tapping entertainment, head to downtown Edmond during the Downtown Edmond Arts Festival, held each year in May. This free, three-day event brings together over 100 artists displaying and selling their work, as well as performance artists and live music. Located on historic Route 66, historic downtown Edmond boasts a variety of unique boutiques, antique stores and trendy restaurants. Try out one of the area’s cafes or snack on traditional fair food like corndogs and cotton candy. Browse the booths to find out which artists took home the festival’s top prizes, or find a shady spot near the stage and enjoy the sounds of jazz, blues and country music.
Oklahoma Statewide Art Events
A unique combination of performance and visual art, the annual Montmartre Chalk Art Festival in Chickasha pits participants in a race against the clock to create works of art using only chalk. Each participant is given a 6’ x 6’ section of pavement and roughly six hours to create their piece. Stop by to see the mind-blowing images, enjoy live music and browse a variety of displays.
Lawton’s Arts for All Festival is southwest Oklahoma’s largest free juried art show. Stop by for over 90 artists, live entertainment on two stages, food vendors and more. Take in a dance performance, grab a snack from an international food vendor or browse the art spaces for a variety of paintings, pottery, jewelry and more.
Arts Festival Oklahoma, held at the Oklahoma City Community College in September, draws a crowd of over 20,000 people. Both local and international artists will be on-hand to talk about their pieces of art. From graphic design to sculpture and everything between, Arts Festival Oklahoma has something to fit any budget. This child-friendly event also features hands-on events, a magician and other entertainers.