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Oklahoma State Capitol

2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference

"Promise in the Road Ahead"

Vanessa JenningsVanessa Jennings
Vanessa Jennings (Kiowa/Kiowa-Apache/Pima) is a regalia maker, clothing designer, cradleboard maker, and bead artist who combines knowledge gained from her family and tribal elders with careful study of historical sources to perfect her art. She was raised by her grandparents, Jeannette Berry and Stephen Mopope, on her Grandmother’s Indian Allotment between Fort Cobb and Anadarko, Oklahoma. She began learning traditional Kiowa artistic techniques at the age of 11. She is now considered an expert on Kiowa culture. In 1989, Jennings was awarded a prestigious National Heritage Fellowship—one of only a handful of Oklahomans who have received the distinction. She has been called a "living national treasure" by two U.S. presidents. Jennings continues to share her deep knowledge of Kiowa culture by teaching in her community both the artistic methodology and history of their people.

Vanessa Jennings's Schedule
General Session Luncheon
Date: Wednesday – October, 18 2023 Time: 11:30am - 1:15pm
Room: Great Plains Ballroom A&B
The general session luncheon program will feature a special keynote presentation by distinguished National Heritage Fellow Vanessa Jennings who has been called a "living national treasure" by two U.S. presidents for her deep knowledge of Kiowa culture. Along with Jennings' presentation, attendees will enjoy performances by pianist Hyunsoon Whang and Oklahoma State Poet Laureate Jay Snider. A legislative citation recognizing Oklahoma as Arts and Humanities Month in Oklahoma will be presented by State Representative Daniel Pae and State Representative Rande Worthen.

A Conversation with NEA Heritage Fellows Vanessa Jennings and Bruce Caesar
Date: Wednesday – October, 18 2023 Time: 1:30pm - 2:45pm
Room: Great Plains Ballroom D
This special presentation will feature a moderated conversation with two distinguished National Heritage Fellows from Oklahoma, Vanessa Jennings and Bruce Caesar. Awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Heritage Fellowships is the nation's highest honor in folk and traditional arts. Each year since 1982, the program has recognized recipients' artistic excellence, lifetime achievement, and contributions to our nation's traditional arts heritage. During this session, you will hear firsthand about Jennings' and Caesar's lifetime of notable work as cultural leaders. Moderated by Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples, this in-depth conversation will explore how the cultural traditions of Oklahoma shape our collective stories as a people.

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For more information contact our Director of Rural and Creative Community Outreach.