I aspire to bring my ancestors’ ancient textile techniques into the modern-day by creating conceptual pieces using traditional finger weaving. I express my cultural identity as a Chickasaw artist by integrating traditional techniques and materials with innovative shapes and forms. I draw inspiration from Mississippian motifs, stories, and archeological findings and use my work to educate the viewer about Chickasaw culture and preserve this ancient art form. Every piece I create is made entirely by hand, without the use of a loom.
Chickasaw textile artist, Tyra Shackleford, takes pride in her cultural heritage and draws inspiration from her indigenous roots. She specializes in three pre-European contact hand weaving techniques: fingerweaving, twining, and sprang. Tyra’s work mixes traditional techniques with her own creative inspiration as she creates modern pieces that convey a message about her culture. Tyra lives and works in Ada, OK, but her art has been shown in numerous native art markets, shows, museums, and exhibitions across the United States since 2011. It is Tyra’s work with sprang that separates her from other textile artists. Tyra has demonstrated her mastery of sprang and her determination to push the boundaries through works such as “The Lady,” a 9 ft. tall, 4 ft. wide, ghost-like shawl which is part of the permanent collection at the Eiteljorg Museum of the American Indians and Western Art and can be seen in the traveling exhibition “Visual Voices.” Tyra has a passion for preserving Chickasaw culture and her knowledge as a textile artist. Each of her pieces tells a Chickasaw story. Tyra’s involvement in cultural activities began as a child when she attended stomp dances, language classes, stickball games, and more with her father, Randy Shackleford. Tyra learned fingerweaving at the age of 12 from a Seminole elder and fellow stompdancer, Wisey Narcomey.