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Oklahoma State Capitol

2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference

"Promise in the Road Ahead"

Bruce Caesar
Bruce Caesar is a 1998 National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow from Anadarko. He represents the third generation in a family of metalsmiths. His father, Julius (Pawnee), was widely recognized as an accomplished craftsman working in German silver who won many awards for his work. German silver, a nonferrous alloy of nickel, copper, and zinc, was invented in the early 1820s. Its hardness and ability to take a shine soon made it a preferred metal for many Native American artisans, particularly in the Southern Plains region. Caesar started working with metal at age seven. By the time he was nine, he was demonstrating jewelry making in craft shows with his father. His apprenticeship with his father was long and intense, and he continues to build on his father's legacy of incorporating lapidary work into his designs and signing his more elaborate commissioned pieces. Caesar has embraced the tradition of Southern Plains metalsmithing while finding his own unique interpretations of traditional motifs. The thoughtful, refined designs of his jewelry can be as simple as a sentence that conveys a thought or as deep as an essay that conveys a whole belief. His work has won many awards and has been featured in major exhibits, such as "Contemporary Southern Plains Indian Metalwork," sponsored by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, and in articles in Oklahoma Today and Native Peoples magazines. Caesar occasionally offers demonstrations for schools, museums, and galleries. He enjoys teaching young people, and his son Adam has been his principal disciple. Caesar's work continues to balance tradition with an adventurous outlook toward design possibilities.

Bruce Caesar's Schedule
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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