t.c. cannon


As I entered the office in charge of arranging travel abroad trips for students, my eyes couldn’t help but to marvel at the amazing reprints of T.C.Cannon’s work in the office. I honestly don’t remember what I came in there for, but I did leave knowing the name of T.C. Cannon. 

Now before I get into the spotlight, I have to say that I did had a hard time finding information on T.C. Cannon. Most of the information will be from Wikipedia. Additionally, I couldn’t find any images of the person himself, so the only picture was one with a watermark. (Sorry! :( )

T.C.Cannon, also known as Tommy Wayne Cannon was born Septermber 27th, 1946 in Lawton, Oklahoma and sadly passed away May 8th, 1978. His legacy is important to the identity of Native American art of the 20th century. He was an enrolled member of the Kiowa Tribe. Additionally, Cannon was of CaddoFrench, and Choctaw descent. 

“Cannon grew up in Zodaltone and Gracemont, Oklahoma and was raised in the Kiowa culture of his father, Walter Cannon, and Caddo traditions of his mother, Minnie Ahdunko Cannon. His Kiowa name, Pai-doung-a-day, means ‘One Who Stands in the Sun.' He was exposed to the art of the Kiowa Five, a group of Native American painters who achieved international reputations in the fine art world and who helped developed the Southern Plains-style of painting. Stephen Mopope of the Kiowa Five and Lee Tsatoke, Sr. were particularly influential on the young artist.

T.C. Cannon later joined the Institute of American Indian Arts of Santa Fe in 1964, where he studied under Fritz Scholder. After graduation he enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute but left after two months and enlisted in the army.

As paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division, Cannon was sent to Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. During the Tet Offensive, he earned two Bronze Star Medals. He was also inducted into the Black Leggings Society, the traditional Kiowa warriors’ society.

While While he was stationed in Vietnam, Cannon had a tremendous breakthrough in  his art career.

Rosemary Ellison, curator of the Southern Plains Indian Museum in Anadarko, Oklahoma, included him in a major traveling exhibit, Contemporary Southern Plains Indian Art.

In 1972, Cannon and Scholder staged a joint exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution's National Collection of Fine Arts, titled 'Two American Painters.’ Cannon produced a large body of work over the next six years, in preparation for his first one-man show, scheduled to open at the Aberbach Gallery in New York in October 1978. On May 8 of that year, however, he died in an automobile accident, and after a delay, the show opened on December 10, 1979 as ’T.C. Cannon: A Memorial Exhibition.’ Featuring 50 works by Cannon, it subsequently became a traveling exhibition, and went on display at locations such as the Heard Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Art, and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.”


Though T.C.Cannon has long passed and could be viewed as an artist of yesterday; his work left us with a visual cue of what Native American art truly is. I hope that all artist can find inspiration from him, and that’s why he’s our spotlight of the week.