Textile Art

Chickasaw Culture Keepers

Tyra Shackleford is a Chickasaw textile artist who specializes in techniques predating European contact, such as finger weaving, twining and sprang. She began finger weaving at the age of 12 in order to make a belt to match her dress, and she never stopped creating belts after that. She describes how ancient Chickasaws used materials like stinging nettle and mulberry bark to create works of art, while she utilizes acrylic yarn and makes modern clothing items and accessories. Shackleford is dedicated to preserving the ancient techniques, but she says that her ancestors were innovators who embraced new technology, so she believes in letting the art evolve. When she was starting out, she was unable to learn from a Chickasaw and had to find a Seminole elder who could teach her. Now she is determined that young Chickasaws should never have to face that same problem and can learn from her how to create beautiful textile artworks using the traditional methods.