A statue honoring a Native ballerina was stolen in Oklahoma. This artist is piecing it together again
, 2023-01-26 13:01:59,
TULSA, Okla. — Sculptor Gary Henson surveys the lines of fused bronze on a statue he’s been piecing back together.
There are weld scars across the waist, arms, legs and neck of the statue of Marjorie Tallchief, one of Oklahoma’s renowned Native ballerinas. The 6-foot-tall artwork was stolen off the grounds of the Tulsa Historical Society last May and later recovered from two different scrap yards in the Tulsa area. It had been cut and hammered into pieces.
Henson molded and cast in bronze the statue of Marjorie Tallchief, one of five ballerinas on display outside the museum that celebrate the Five Moons — Native ballerinas Yvonne Chouteau, Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin and Maria Tallchief, Marjorie’s older sister — who rose to international fame in the latter half of the 20th century.
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Henson began collaborating with Monte England on the sculptures shortly after the project began. He finished them in 2007, two years after England’s death.
Before Marjorie’s statue was cut from its base, the ballerina was depicted in a pose from the ballet “Idylle.” In a 1954 promotional image for the performance, Tallchief has one foot drawn up to the other knee, arms raised behind her, as she looks toward the floor.
“It was a treasure and a wonderful thing for everybody to enjoy,” said Henson, a member of the Cherokee Shawnee tribe. “To think somebody thought they…
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