Pickens Learning Commons Opens at NOC Tonkawa

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Native Artist Yatika Starr Fields.

Transformational expansion underway for NOC Tonkawa library

The Vineyard Library at Northern Oklahoma College Tonkawa is undergoing a transformation into a contemporary NOC Student Learning Commons.

The library remodel is the first significant project emerging from the Building a Better NOC initiative. NOC President Dr. Clark Harris explained the plan for the transformation of the library at the April 27th Board of Regents meeting in Tonkawa.

Harris added, “This will all happen from the efforts of the NOC Foundation and a generous donation from a NOC supporter as well as funding from a government grant.” In regard to the donation, the NOC board of regents approved naming the space the Pickens Learning Commons in recognition of the substantial gift and continued collaborative partnership of Hugh and Dr. S. J. Pickens. Work began in May in the hopes of the remodel completion for the fall semester.

“The library at NOC Tonkawa is at a pivotal crossroads with rows and rows of outdated books not being used by today’s students and the need for individual and small group study areas in a dynamic environment,” said Dr. Clark Harris. “The library could greatly benefit from a fresh look. This project is a perfect example of connecting NOC’s core values of personalized education, continuous improvement and community and civic engagement into one transforming project.”

“The new NOC Student Learning Commons will improve the student and employee quality of life by bringing more access to current technology and increase distributed study areas. The Student Learning Commons will possess the “Wow” factor in student recruitment as well as prospective students and families tour the campus, while the new access to learning spaces will aid in retention and improved graduation rates. The Cultural Engagement Center (CEC) and current library will be blended into one space while retaining the glass dividing walls,” he added.

The project will include new technology, study tables and chairs, soft loveseats and chairs, new reception area, shelving, and carpet.

It will also include the addition of two new permanent murals totaling 100’x20’ by artist Yatika Starr Fields along with a constant collection of various art works from the Doctor Pickens Museum, Inc. to be on long-term display. Fields has already created two existing murals in the Cultural Engagement Center, commissioned by the Doctor Pickens Museum in November 2020 and completed in June 2021.

“We are so excited to continue to partner with Hugh Pickens and the Doctor Pickens Museum, said NOC Vice President for Development and Executive Director to the NOC Foundation Sheri Snyder. “We are grateful for friends such as the Pickens who have chosen to share their gifts with us.”

When completed, the Pickens Learning Commons will include the Cultural Engagement Center, Testing Center, career and transfer services, library services, enhanced technology, tutoring services, and an art gallery.

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About Pickens Museum

Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp by Sculptor John Free. Seeking to attain his tribe's highest war honor by touching his enemy. This action among indigenous peoples is called "Counting Coup".
Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp by Sculptor John Free. “Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp” is a bronze created by Osage Artist John Free. The bronze, eight feet high and twelve feet long) was enlarged to 1-1/4 life size through the efforts of John Free of the Bronze Horse foundry in Pawhuska and Hugh Pickens. Pictured (L-R): Hugh Pickens, Executive Director of Pickens Museum and Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear of the Osage Nation.
Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman by Artist Daniel Pickens. “Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman” is a mural painted by fine artist Daniel Pickens. Daniel was born in Lima, Peru in 1974 and is currently living in Stockholm, Sweden. This mural is at our Ponca City location.
“"War Club" by Native Artist Yatika Starr Fields was recently acquired from Garth Greenam Gallery to Pickens Museum. Personal and social struggle have long been integral to the artist’s practice. After joining the Water Protectors at the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016, Fields increasingly centered the Indigenous history of hope and struggle in his work, particularly in his studio practice. In his 2017 series, Tent Metaphor Standing Rock, Field recovered tents after the infamous February 22, 2017 police raid on the protesters. The artist recombined the vivid tenting material—the mainstay of middle-class camping holidays that has become an icon of homelessness and protest movements—into traditional Indigenous patterns, anti-pipeline slogans, and into dynamic, compelling abstract compositions. As in his graffiti works, Fields blurs the line between abstraction and representation, creating stylistic compositions out of recognizable elements, and setting them against dynamic, swirling fields of color and twisting forms. The works blur the boundaries between political polemic and abstraction, between distress, resistance and hope.
Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman by Artist Daniel Pickens. Our mural "The Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman" is located in City Central at our Ponca City location.
Doctor Pickens Museum of Turquoise Jewelry and Art. Pickens Museum displays art works at NOC Tonkawa campus. Pictured (L-R): Dr. Cheryl Evans, NOC President, Hugh Pickens, Executive Director of Pickens Museum, and Sheri Snyder, NOC Vice President for Development and Community Relations. (photo by John Pickard/Northern Oklahoma College) This art is at our Tonkawa location
Native American Artist Yatika Starr Fields Completes Mural for Pickens Museum.
The World's Largest Naja. Future location of Pickens Museum on Route 60 and "U" Street West of Ponca City
Architectural Renderings of Pickens Museum.
Aerial View from East of Future location of Pickens Museum along Route 60 at "U" Street West of Ponca City
Display of Turquoise Jewelry.
Drum player by Allan Houser. This stone carving is part of the collection at Pickens Museum.
"Red Man" by Native American Artist Fritz Scholder. Pickens Museum Director Hugh Pickens on right.
Osage Warior in the Enemy Camp.
Native American Jewelry Artist Tonya Rafael with a silver frame she created to honor my wife Sr. S.J. Pickens. My wife and Tonya worked together over the years creating new jewelry art pieces. My wife had an eye for color and would often design a spectacular piece and ask Tonya to execute it for her. A skilled silversmith, Tonya would sometimes stay in our guest house, set up a workshop, and work for days at a time on a Squash Blossom, Bolo, or Bracelet my wife commissioned. The piece is a silver picture frame that Tonya cut out of thick silver plate. Around the edge of the picture frame are 95 small turquoise stones. In the top is a large spiny oyster stone in the shape of a heart. The frame contains a photo that Tonya took of my wife a few years ago. Dr. Pickens is wearing one of her favorite outfits and if you look closely you can see a special squash blossom and necklace that Tonya created for my wife. In the bottom of the frame is an inscription.
Native American Artist Jolene Bird. Jolene Bird is an accomplished artist who learned her craft from her grandfather over 20 years ago. Jolene makes her jewelry in the tradition of the Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico. This is a Fender Stratocaster guitar onto which Jolene has attached pieces of Kingman and Sonoran Turquoise highlighted with Jet. The stars are in Abalone, Mother of Pearl, Pipestone, Yellow Serpentine, and Spiny Oyster. The artistry in this piece is simply breathtaking and has to be seen to be believed. Consider that this is a three dimensional mosaic, a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle if you will. Jolene told me that each individual piece of turquoise had to be cut, shaped, and ground down to fit perfectly with the other pieces. Each individual piece probably took six to eight hours to produce and there are literally hundreds of pieces covering the guitar.
American Indian by Paul Manship This piece at Pickens Museum is the only known existing copy of this sculpture.
Painting by Peruvian Artist Josue Sanchez. Photo Credit: Hugh Pickens Pickens Museum

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