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I want my paintings to be uplifting perceptions people have about Native Americans of that era and to show that, even in 1845, these people were exploring the world around them and doing non-stereotypical things.
The grandson of a full-blooded Choctaw, Wooten knows the tension of both worlds. Wooten studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago, which also holds an impressive share of classical art. In the ’60s, Wooten was associated with Chicago figurative painters Jim Nutt, Gladys Nilsson and Roger Brown, who presented cartoon-style narratives often with violent or sexual content. Wooten, though, did not share their style or subject matter, and instead developed his own, more classically figurative style.
Walt Wooten has created over forty paintings that celebrated George Catlin's historic trip to Europe in 1945 when he brought along a group of Ojibwa from Iowa while exhibiting his works throughout Europe. The visitors were a sensation in Paris where they performed Native dances alongside Catlin's portraits. Wooten's paintings depict the Ojibwa with masterworks from the Louvre.
Wooten, who now lives in Santa Fe, N.M., also cites the Southwest and Taos Founders as inspirations.
Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL