KP Artist Welcomed By Choctaw Nation


Irene Torres, KP News

"Sunshine and Fireflies," a portrait of the artist's daughter, Lily. Courtesy Adria Hanson.

Key Peninsula artist Adria Hanson will exhibit her work during the Choctaw Cultural Meeting at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center Aug. 5. The program will include an art show, pottery, ancient weaponry, stickball, social dancing, a beading class, a language lesson and Choctaw songs.

"The Native American population in the U.S. is eight-tenths of 1 percent. I am proud to be a Choctaw and proud that they want me to show my work. It’s wonderful to bring beautiful things for the people to see," Hanson said.

Hanson is an official registered artist of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. "A thousand people came last year. They have a scout who looks at Choctaw artists and finds a few so they can come and show their work. In 12 years, this is the first time I’ve been called," she said.

Hanson is one-eighth Cherokee and one-sixteenth Choctaw. She has resisted marketing herself as a Native artist since she considers her work mainstream. But after being encouraged by her husband, "It is starting to get into my heart, to be proud," she said. "I am starting to realize how much of a passion I have about the Native American culture."

Hanson earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art and a minor in anthropology from Oklahoma University  with support from the Choctaw Nation. She also studied for two months in Florence, Italy. "That changed everything," she said. "I realized what teachers were not teaching, so I taught myself."

She favors oils and watercolors, but has also painted frescoes and does some acrylic painting. Hanson shares her skills with local schools through Two Waters Arts Alliance and recently taught students to make headbands and a shield from an embroidery hoop.

Hanson paints about 15 hours a week, "from 9 p.m. until 11 p.m., when everyone is asleep," she said. "Then I have to get into an 'art' frame of mind. I listen to jazz or podcasts about art." She said some commissioned paintings, like the portrait of a Choctaw chief she painted in 2006, can take a year to finish. "I like to put in a lot of detail," she said.

The Hansons are raising their three children in a home they built on 20 acres above Carr Inlet at the south end of the Key Peninsula. She teaches private art classes for 5- to 10-year-olds, a class for adults in acrylic portraiture, Van Gogh-style painting workshops, plein air painting and other classes for children ages 7 and up. Her goal is "to teach more classes, hold art events and do more plein air painting," she said. But she is also focused on her children, whom she will homeschool next year.

"It’s easier when you have time to focus on painting and on marketing," Hanson said. "Artists need to take classes on how to sell themselves. I don’t think I know any artists who are good at that. We need a place for KP artists to sell their work."


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