Enoch Kelly Haney, Seminole/Creek, told The Oklahoman that he could not imagine what it would feel like for an owl to burst through a person’s body. But he’s depicted it.
“Certain tribes, particularly the Muscogee (Creek), believe that certain people have the ability to turn themselves into owls. … It’s the Five Civilized Tribes that mostly believe that. That’s what he’s doing here,” Haney told the paper about the figure he sculpted, which was exhibited at the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival on June 5 in Remington Park in Oklahoma City.
“I’ve never had the experience, but I’m assuming it would be pretty excruciating to go through that expression, that feeling, of this owl just kind of busting through the body,” he said.
Haney crafted the 2-foot-tall American Indian warrior that changes into a bird, which is called “Owl Transformation.”
“The most difficult thing for me about art is developing the concept. Once I get the concept, then the painting, sculpting, is easy. … The way I function and I see other artists, if we can see an image here, it goes down and travels down our fingertips and it creates in front of us what we have in here,” he said, tapping his temple, according to the paper.
The former state legislator, and principal chief of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, was named Ambassador of the Year for the 28th annual festival. The honor goes to someone who has depicted positive images of American Indians. Natives and non-Natives have earned the title. Kevin Costner, Tony Hillerman and Billy Mills were past recipients.
Haney’s sculpting of “The Guardian,” a 22-foot-tall bronze warrior that sits atop the Oklahoma State Capitol, is the 73-year-old’s most recognized work.
“‘The Guardian’ from start to finish took me 10 months … but with ‘Chickasaw Horse and Warrior,’ that was a whole different thing. I’ve ridden horses and had some, but I’d never really done anything like that. So it took me two full years to complete that project. And to me, that’s the best project I have to date. I’m looking forward to having better ones,” Haney said.
You can read more about Haney’s sculpting story at NewsOK.com.