Bolukta: Mississippian Designs, Medallions, and Modern Choctaw Art

Bolukta: Mississippian Designs, Medallions, and Modern Choctaw Art

This exhibit features some of Jane Semple-Umsted’s recent works displaying a common theme of circles and circular motifs, as referenced in the Choctaw word bolukta.

Semple-Umsted’s pieces frequently feature Mississippian designs, which are often intricate and circular. Sometimes, these designs are the main feature, while others are incorporated into the background.

The use of designs commonly found among Choctaw ancestors allows Semple-Umsted to make connections across mediums as well as generations through her depiction of modern tribal members. Semple-Umsted’s skill as an artist is on full display through her intricate batiks on cotton.

Batiks require careful planning and patience, as the dyeing process can sometimes create unexpected results.

Often, Semple-Umsted is asked to create large-scale creations for installations across the Choctaw Nation. We hope this exhibit allows for a closer study and appreciation of the artist’s craft.

About the Artist

Jane Semple Umsted is a registered Choctaw artist that has spent a lifetime working in a variety of media which includes oils, acrylics, watercolors, sculptures and the unique media of batik. She is a descendant of two Choctaw Chiefs, Peter Pitchlynn and William F. Semple.

Her art exudes the spirit of her Native roots. Since childhood, Jane has been inspired by the themes and visual images of the Choctaw culture. These have become the inspiration of her artwork. Emphasis on vibrant color and dramatic design is one of the strongest and most dramatic elements of her work. A great deal of interest centers on the batiks that she creates. This technique is an ancient method of painting with hot wax to create shapes on fabric.

In steps, using one color of dye at a time, she meticulously develops an unusual design. Once applied, the wax holds each particular shape as the dye is introduced. The last color that is added is black which permeates the entire piece. The final step involves removing the wax using heat and then the artwork becomes pliable and flattened for dry mounting.

Currently, Jane serves as curator at the Semple Family Museum of Native American Art located on the campus of Southeastern Oklahoma State University. In addition to this role, she serves as a trustee for the Institute of American Indian Arts (NAIA) in Santa Fe.

She gives back to her tribe and community by serving on the board for Bryan County Youth Services, SE Alumni Association Board of Directors, Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival Board of Directors, Goodland Academy Board of Trustees, Semple Family Museum of Native American Art Board of Directors and the Chahta Foundation Board of Directors.

For more information about the artist or to purchase pieces, visit jsempleumsted.com.