Redwood Vase

Burls are a favorite material for Cheyenne artist Nathan Hart. These areas of knotty growth are characterized by interlocking grain patterns or colors. Trees produce burls in response to stress: an injury, virus, fungus or insect attack. Beauty is often born of hardship. When a burl is cut and polished, unique abstract patterns and designs not normally found in the wood are revealed. Burl wood can sometimes be difficult to work with because the grain is twisted and interlocked, lending itself to unpredictable chipping. Interlocking grains also produce extreme density, making them resistant to splitting. This quality has long made burls a top choice for bowls and wooden tools. Hart is a self-taught wood artist, who bought his first lathe in 1983, shortly after graduating from Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas. In 1989, while riding a horse, Hart planted a ceremonial spear to designate the site for the Meeting Place and Indian Nations Flag Plaza in the State Capitol complex. His father, Chief Lawrence Hart, one of the principal chiefs of the Cheyenne tribe, conducted a traditional Cheyenne blessing of the site. After a successful career in finance and investment, Hart turned to art full time in 2001. Hart’s wife, Melanie Stuckey, has long been a judicial assistant for the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. Hart’s pieces have earned several awards, including first place at the Santa Fe Indian Market and Best of Division at the Heard Museum Guild and Indian Fair and Market. His work was highlighted in a 2006 exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York and featured in an exhibit organized by the American Indian Cultural Center. He was also included in the Inaugural Exhibition of the Oklahoma State Art Collection at the State Capitol to celebrate the Centennial in 2007.