T.C. Cannon: At the Edge of America

July 12, 2018 - October 7, 2018

Gilcrease Museum presents an exhibition celebrating one of the most influential and inventive Native American artists of the 20th-century, T.C. Cannon (1946-1978, Caddo/Kiowa). T.C. Cannon: At the Edge of America is the first major traveling exhibition of Cannon’s work since 1990 and explores the dynamic creative range and legacy of an artist whose life was cut short at age 31. Through nearly 90 works, including 30 major paintings, works on paper, poetry and musical recordings, Cannon’s distinctive and affecting worldview shines through in this groundbreaking exhibition organized by the Peabody Essex Museum.

Deeply personal yet undeniably political, Cannon’s artwork adeptly channels his cultural heritage, experience as a Vietnam War veteran, and the turbulent social and political climate that defined 1960s and ’70s America. Amid ongoing national and global conversations about ethnic identity, social justice, land rights and cultural appropriation, Cannon’s work continues to engage issues that are as relevant now as they were 50 years ago.

“Cannon’s artworks hold a stunning energy-with vivid colors and defiant figures who refuse to be contained,” said Laura Fry, senior curator and curator of art at Gilcrease Museum. “His large-scale paintings and expressive music show American history and pop culture through a Native American lens, tackling complex issues with a blend of raw emotion and humor.”

Tommy Wayne (‘T.C.’) Cannon grew up in a rural farming community in southeastern Oklahoma, raised by his Kiowa father and Caddo mother. In an innovative approach, Cannon fused visual elements from his Native American worldview with European and American artistic influences, such as Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and Robert Rauschenberg. He also played guitar, wrote songs, and performed songs by musicians he deeply respected, like Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, and his musical interests spanned country and western, to blues, jazz, and opera. Cannon often listened to music in his studio and created paintings from songs and vice versa.

Cannon’s life’s work, as a masterful interpreter of the complex Native American experience, continues to influence artists and other creative spirits. As the boundaries of American art continue to shift and be reconsidered, making room for a more expansive, inclusive vision, a new look at T.C. Cannon’s work is perfectly timed to help redefine what it means to be American.

T.C. Cannon: At the Edge of America is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts. The exhibition was made possible in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation and Ellen and Steve Hoffman provided generous support. We also recognize the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum. Media Partner: Northshore Magazine


Exhibition Programming

American Truths: T.C. Cannon’s Reckoning, Representation and Renewal
Friday, July 13, 2018
12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Bring your lunch and enjoy a talk by Karen Kramer, exhibition curator and Curator of Native American and Oceanic Art and Culture at the Peabody Essex Museum as she shares insights about the exhibition. Free with museum admission.

Funday Sunday
Sunday, July 15, 2018
12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
The July Funday Sunday will celebrate T.C .Cannon: At the Edge of America with music, dance, T.C. Cannon-inspired art experiences and a special focus on the artist’s Kiowa heritage. Free admission all day.

T.C. Cannon: Creation of an Artist
Sunday, July 15, 2018
2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Take an intimate look at T.C. Cannon and his life in this talk with Joyce Cannon Yi, T.C. Cannon’s sister. Joyce will describe T.C.’s childhood, his Oklahoma roots and his early interest in art. Free admission all day.