The art world and OSU Cowboy family lost one of its beloved members last weekend with the death of renowned Native American artist and printmaker Benjamin Harjo Jr. (Seminole/Absentee Shawnee).
Harjo died May 21 at the age of 77.
Graduating from OSU in 1974 with a Fine Art degree, Harjo went on to produce heavily sought-after artwork for more than five decades.
As one of our nation’s prominent Native American artists, Harjo never lost sight of his Oklahoma roots, staying based in Oklahoma City throughout his prolific career.
Among his many national accolades and accomplishments, Harjo received the 2002 OSU Distinguished Alumni Award, was named the Red Earth Festival Honored One in 2003, was recognized by the OU Health Center Foundation as an Oklahoma Living Treasure and was inducted into the OSU Alumni Hall Of Fame in 2012.
Harjo and his wife Barbara served on the Art Advisory Council that established the OSU Museum of Art.
Inspired by his heritage, Harjo helped redefine Native art by forging his own path. His colorful geometric shapes and pen and ink styles are highly recognizable throughout the world and galleries across the nation.
Harjo’s collections can be seen at First Americans Museum (OKC), Red Earth Art Center and Gilcrease Museum (Tulsa), Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Sante Fe and the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian. His final gallery showing can currently be viewed at Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center as a part of the Patterns of Knowing collection.
A friend and mentor to many, with his genuine smile and signature beret, Benjamin Harjo, Jr.’s life and legacy will continue to inspire artists and the Native community for years to come.
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