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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Lance Straughn “spirit painting” has been sold to the U.S. Department of the Interior Museum.

“Bear Clan Guardian” was purchased in August and added to a collection of more than 1,500 works of art on rotating display at the facility.

“I was kind of shocked when they contacted me,” Straughn said. “I was delighted, but surprised.”

“Bear Clan Guardian” may be exhibited in the museum’s online and in-person public exhibitions and as part of its robust Art-in-Office program.

“Artwork (is) displayed in eligible conference rooms and office suites within the Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building,” said Jason Jurgena, DOI museum registrar.

“Over the past several years, the museum has strategically grown its collection. An ongoing collaboration with our colleagues in the Department of the Interior’s Indian Arts and Crafts Board made us aware of Mr. Straughn, and we reached out to him directly to learn more about his portfolio of artwork. This ultimately resulted in acquisition.

“Mr. Straughn is the only contemporary Chickasaw artist whose work is represented in the Interior Museum’s collection,” Jurgena added.

Lance Straughn

The painting was one of several featured by the Chickasaw artist during the Artesian Online Art Market. It was on display at Tribes 131 Native American Art Gallery in Norman. The painting was professionally packaged and shipped to the museum under the direction of Tribes 131 owner Leslie Pate.

“I am thrilled and humbled that one of my paintings will be among some of the finest First American and western art paintings in the nation,” Straughn said.

The museum contains more than 8,000 artifacts of historical, cultural and scientific importance collected since 1849.

Among them are two paintings by Thomas Moran, considered the finest American landscape painter in America. Moran paintings are displayed throughout museums in Washington, D.C., and several are owned by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

Straughn has shown art in a multitude of galleries nationally.

“Bear Clan Guardian” is the first of his works purchased by a national museum.

The technique of “spirit painting” came to Straughn in 2018.

“I am at a loss for words on how to describe it,” Straughn said. “It has abstract elements and realism working in tandem. I suppose the abstract is more in the colors and in the backgrounds of my spirit paintings. My former style is what I would call realistic impressionism. Those paintings weren’t meant to be photographic but are meant to look realistic.”

In June, Straughn published “Images in the Smoke,” a compilation book of Chickasaw, Cherokee, Cheyenne and Sioux mythological stories handed down through centuries. Straughn illustrated the book and is currently working to complete a children’s book.

His work may be enjoyed by visiting

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