Tom Fields

4/4 Native American from Oklahoma, 1/2 Cherokee on my mothers' side, and 1/2 Muscogee Creek from my dad's side

Born 1951, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Hastings Indian Hospital

“Photography has opened a door for me to explore the world," says Fields, "it's a cultural journey that continually becomes a new and dynamic adventure." Born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in 1951 and a member of the Cherokee and Muscogee Creek tribes, he attended film school in Santa Fe, New Mexico, studied art at Northeastern State University, and a photography school in Tulsa. Fields developed an early interest in photography while looking at old family photo albums. The timeliness and graphic nature of those black and white images seemed to beckon him toward the medium. That was the beginning of his passion for photography. "My work is about producing creative and realistic images from the emotional landscapes of Native people," says Fields, “I'm always looking for those personal moments when people share hope and are living their culture.” Fields first exhibited his photographs in 1979, when two of his photographs were accepted in Tulsa's Philbrook Museums Annual Indian Art show. These were the first photographs ever accepted into the show. At that time, photography was not looked on as a serious "Indian art" medium. Fortunately, that has changed over the years. "I have a serious challenge and opportunity when photographing Native people," says Fields. "You can't dream this up in your head and give it a title. One has to be present to experience the moment - then make the photograph." Fields has participated in a number of photography exhibits, such as group shows in Los Angeles, California, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and a solo show at the Native and Inuit Photographers Gallery in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. In 2003 he participated in a thematic residency at Banff Art Center in Banff, Canada. In 2011 he had a photography exhibit at the Oklahoma State Capitol titled, "Nativescapes" A View From the Interior." Fields’s work is most influenced by his surroundings. "I've learned to photograph what's close to me, physically, and spiritually," he says. He feels his best work is done when working within these themes. "I like to photograph close to the moment. I want the viewer to feel and see what I experience."

Elder Joyce "Hoh Tin Ee Mi" Big Soldier stands in the dance arena of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma. She is a respected elder of the tribe and participates in many tribal dances and ceremonies. Location: Perkins, Oklahoma. 2019. Dimension: 20” X 30” Media: Photography B & W Digital Print on Archival Paper