Lead project artist: Erin Cooper
Aiukli, Choctaw, noun, Translation: Beauty
As artists living and working in the Oklahoma City community, we first want to thank Hoffman’s Furniture for embracing the Western Avenue mural project. We feel honored to have been chosen to represent our community and to have the opportunity to create something beautiful, meaningful, and long-lasting. When we were offered the this chance and given carte blanch to create a mural, our first thought was just to create something positive and uplifting that would be symbolic of all that is beautiful in Oklahoma.
Finding a vision with all those qualities was not an easy task, but the answer came in the form of a 13-year old Choctaw girl named Bella Aiukli. As an active member of her tribe, she embodies many of the qualities that we wanted to convey in our piece. She’s connected to her roots in Oklahoma, but also a positive role-model to her peers and esteemed by everyone who knows her. We decided that she would represent Oklahoma as an entity. Her Choctaw heritage firmly rooted in the land, and her hopeful future as a native of this state.
In addition to Bella as the central element, we decided to pull subjects from nature. In our mural you’ll find the Buffalo, butterfly wings, catfish, Scissor-tail feathers, bees, roses, and other natural elements. These elements are woven into Bella’s hair and head piece. We were careful to not appropriate any Native symbols that could be perceived as disrespectful, and created a modern & stylized look that is a departure from typical art with Oklahoma themed subject matter.
Our piece is entitled, “Oklahoma Aiukli”
We chose a bright palette of sky blue, orange & gold to represent the spectacular Oklahoma skies, with smaller elements colored in shades of blue, orange, coral red, teal green, and indigo.
Our goal was to create a way for our mural to interact with the audience and allow them to connect with the art in their own ways. Our “Oklahoma Aiukli” has her hands outstretched as though she is carrying something precious. The audience will be able to “stand” in her outstretched hands and insert themselves into the modern Oklahoma mural bathed in white light.