Pickens Learning Commons Opens at Northern Oklahoma College

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NOC holds grand opening of the Pickens Learning Commons

The grand opening of the Pickens Learning Commons was held at the Vineyard Library-Administration Building at Northern Oklahoma College’s (NOC) Tonkawa location. The Tonkawa Chamber of Commerce was on hand to hold a ribbon cutting for the commons as well. Cutting the ribbon together are Hugh Pickens (holding the scissors) and NOC President Dr. Clark Harris (to the left of Pickens).

A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the Pickens Learning Commons located in the Vineyard Library-Administration Building at Northern Oklahoma College’s (NOC) Tonkawa location at 1220 East Grand Avenue on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 3:30 pm.

The Pickens Learning Commons includes library services, the Cultural Engagement Center (CEC), testing center, tutoring services, career and transfer services, enhanced technology resources, distributed study space, as well as murals by artist Yatika Starr Fields and an art collection from the Hugh and Dr. S. J. Pickens Museum.

This partnership with Pickens and NOC began in 2020 when Hugh Pickens commissioned the 50 foot murals by Yatika Starr Fields in the Cultural Engagement Center at NOC. In April of this year, NOC President Dr. Clark Harris shared the vision of the Tonkawa library and a new contemporary student learning commons with the NOC Board of Regents.

“In doing research on libraries, we found that academic libraries are at a pivotal crossroads at this time. New technologies with the idea that digital resources are the way students now access, changing study habits, and the cost of maintaining a traditional library have just made a major influence on colleges and they had to make this kind of change,” said NOC President Dr. Clark Harris. “With this project, NOC has transformed the library into this amazing student experience.”

The Board of Regents approved the project as well as the naming of the facility. In June, the contract between NOC and the Pickens Museum was renewed, and Pickens commissioned two murals that total 100 foot by 20 foot, once again created by Yatika Starr Fields.

There are over 80 pieces of artwork on display in the Pickens Learning Commons, making it one of the most significant art collections on display at NOC.

The day of the grand opening also coincided with Hugh Pickens’ 73rd birthday with the NOC Roustabouts singing Pickens happy birthday and his favorite dessert: a crème brûlée cake.

“Art can broaden our knowledge, give us enjoyment, and challenge our assumptions. Art can also help soothe, calm, enlighten, and uplift our minds and spirits. Even art that leaves us uncomfortable can still help us to think differently and give us new perspectives,” said Hugh Pickens. “Art gives meaning to our lives and helps us understand our world. Art is an essential part of our culture because it allows us to have a deeper understanding of our emotions. It increases our self-awareness and allows us to be open to new ideas and experiences. Art continues to open our minds and our hearts, and shows us what can be possible in our world. Art can open our eyes to a bigger world out there, art can change your life.”

The Tonkawa Chamber of Commerce was on hand to hold a ribbon cutting for the commons to close out the event.

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 Warrior 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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