Traci Rabbit

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Native American Artist Traci Rabbit.
Native American Artist Traci Rabbit.

Rabbit continues family legacy via art business

Rabbit continues family legacy via art business

BY LINDSEY BARK Reporter

04/11/2017 08:15 AM

PRYOR, Okla. – Five years after her father Bill’s death, Cherokee Nation citizen Traci Rabbit is continuing her family’s artistic legacy with her ability to create and reproduce art for the studio they operated together – Rabbit Studios.

“(I’m) so just very blessed that I’m able to support quite a few people in my family…carrying on my dad’s legacy. Doing the only thing I knew to do,” Traci said.

Traci said her father was “progressive” when he started reproducing art to sell as a means of income to support a family. She said artists are realizing the value of reproductions and how to make a living as an artist.

For the Cherokee Phoenix’s second quarter giveaway, she donated an 18-inch-by-24-inch giclee (reproduction) on canvas of her “Gifts of Life” painting.

“I chose ‘Gifts of Life,’ which depicts a Native American woman with four hummingbirds representing the four directions, the four seasons, different stages of life. When people look at my work, I may try to convey one message but they see another. With spring coming, I thought that would be a good piece and people might like it,” Traci said. “The color palette that I used was to depict spring and the renewal of life and starting over. So that was what I was thinking when I painted that piece.”

Most of her art depicts Native American women. She said she is inspired by the women in her family.

“I would say that the reason that I do (paint Native American women) is from an early age my parents always empowered us kids. My mother is a very strong woman. The people in my family and the people that I was around and raised by, they were all very strong women. So, I guess growing up around that I admired their strength and their determination and their ability to rise above bad circumstances,” Traci said. At Rabbit Studios, all work and reproductions are done in-house on items such as art tiles, clipboards, mouse pads, cell phone covers, coffee mugs, coasters, scarves and handbags. Traci said her schedule throughout the year is “crazy.” From August to March, she travels to one or two art shows a month in and out of state, including wholesale shows. From March to July, she creates new art and decides what will come next in her product line to get ready for the next season’s schedule.

Not only does she have to think creatively for her art, but she also get into a business mindset to determine what products she wants to sell.

“Not only do I create the art, but being able to do the business side of it is, I think, so important for artists today. They should know both sides. That way they’re not fumbling through, not understanding. At least have an understanding of…that other side if you’re going to do it for a living because it is very important,” Traci said.

Her art and merchandise can be found at billandtracirabbit.com. For more information, email orders@billandtracirabbit.com or visit Rabbit Studios at 231 S. Taylor.

On July 1, the Cherokee Phoenix will draw a winner for Rabbit’s “Gifts of Life.” For every $10 donated to the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veterans Fund or spent on Cherokee Phoenix goods one entry will be entered into the drawing.

Traci Rabbit captures a spirit in the Native American woman

Traci Rabbit (Cherokee) captures a spirit in the Native American woman that embodies the best in female strength. Her paintings represent the way it feels to be female; to fly in the face of all that comes, with fierce dignity, energy and strength, but they also capture women’s ability to be gentle, kind and compassionate. Traci is the daughter of internationally known artist Bill Rabbit and Karen Rabbit. She was born at the Claremore Indian Hospital and grew up in the Pryor, OK area. “My family has always been close and I had a wonderful childhood. I grew up attending my dad’s art shows. I never considered becoming an artist because in my mind he was the greatest and I knew I couldn’t compare to him in that arena. However, I enjoyed doing art and began winning art awards in the 1st grade and the rest is history.”

Traci attended Northeastern State University, which originally was the Cherokee Female Seminary, receiving a BA in Business Administration, the first in her family to graduate from college.

“My father started selling my paintings to galleries when I was in high school and college. Upon graduation, I started attending art shows with him.” The art business consumed her and she has never looked back. Her degree has been invaluable to the business, which includes a full gift line. The Rabbit family produces the gift line from the conception of the original art all the way to the production and packaging, so everything is Native American made. Her family takes great pride in this work.

After the passing of Traci’s father Bill Rabbit in 2012, she continues to live in the same area as her family since the removal of the Cherokee people to Oklahoma. “Without God and the support of my family, none of this would be possible,” she said.

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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.
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.
Display of Turquoise Jewelry.
"Red Man" by Native American Artist Fritz Scholder. Pickens Museum Director Hugh Pickens on right.
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.
Painting by Peruvian Artist Josue Sanchez. Photo Credit: Hugh Pickens Pickens Museum

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