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Artist biography


Okee-Chee (Little Blue Bird)
Ft. Sills Apache
Chicago, Illinois

Image of Sharon Skolnick

Sharon Skolnick attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from 1965 to 1966. She then moved to Chicago, where she raised four children and became an activist in the urban American Indian community. The O Wai Ya Wa Indian School, the American Indian Center, Indian Council Fire, and the American Indian Health Service are a few of the organizations for which she has served advocacy roles. Her leadership extends well beyond the Indian community, however. She currently serves as secretary of the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, chairperson of the chamber's public safety committee, and liaison with Chicago's Twentieth Police District. Yet for all these impressive activities, she is known primarily as a painter and active promoter of Indian art.

Skolnick is the owner and manager of Okee-Chee's Wild Horse Gallery, a showcase of American Indian art located in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood. She is also a founding member of the Chicago Indian Artist Guild. She identifies and encourages local Indian talent in a variety of ways, and has helped organize more than 100 local exhibits of Native American art. She also serves as a judge at fairs and pow wows.

In her paintings, graphic arts, and dollmaking, Skolnick draws on traditional symbolism and her own experiences. Her dolls are dressed in traditional attire made of fur, horsehair, deer hide, porcupine quills, feathers, leather, and cloth trimmed with beaded and appliqued designs. Sometimes they carry hand-held fans, medicine wheels, and baskets. Although her tribal affiliation is Ft. Sills Apache, her work strongly reflects the designs and traditions of the Great Lakes region where she has spent her entire life.

Skolnick has initiated many innovative projects that bring the Native American cultural heritage to a wider audience. Among these are the Native American Christmas tree that is part of the Museum of Science and Industry's "Christmas Around the World" exhibit, and "Portraits: Indian Chicago," a series of large-scale oil paintings that were the subject of a 30-minute television documentary produced by the Chicago NBC affiliate.

Artist's work

Image of Naomi Doll by Sharon SkolnickObject measurements and display specifications:

Sharon Skolnick
Naomi Doll, 1994
Female doll on stand
Sisters of the Great Lakes Collection
MSU Museum 7594.7

Objects held in free-standing vitrine: base height = 33 inches; base width = 24 x 24 inches; acrylic height is 20 inches. Infant Doll rests on a black velvet pillow inside of the case.  The pillow should support the cradleboard starting from underneath the head and following along the back so that doll and cradleboard are on a slight slant. Naomi Doll stands on wooden box plinth - dimensions:  h: 2"  l: 5"  w: 5".