- ABOUT US
Cherokee artist Roy Boney Jr. melds comic books and fine art into startling and vivid modern interpretations.
By Megan Rossman
Published July/August 2012
Lurking underneath Boney’s sunny disposition, however, serpents, shape shifters, and other creatures common in Cherokee folklore wait to take form in violent splashes of paint and ink.
“He can show parts of old legends that no one I’ve ever seen has bothered to put in a piece of art,” says Wiggins, who owns nine of Boney’s works.
Encouraged by Wiggins, Boney entered his first exhibition, the 2006 Trail of Tears Art Show and Sale at the Cherokee Heritage Center near Tahlequah. The museum immediately purchased Boney’s entry, a pen-and-ink drawing called Our Father. The portrait of Andrew Jackson staring out with empty, black eye sockets was the grand-prize winner and a resounding hit with patrons and museum staff.
“When we printed the posters for the show, we only printed a typical run of a thousand,” says museum curator Mickel Yantz. “They were gone. We had staff members clamoring for them. By the time we had our opening reception, we were already out.”
In the span of one show, Boney had begun making a name for himself in the Native American art world. He continued to create, working with a range of media from ink, charcoal, and conté crayon to acrylic and watercolor. Many of Boney’s pieces are sketched or colored digitally on his iPad.
The artist created the digital sketch Wolfie, above, on his iPad.
The Cherokee language has itself become a recurring, swirling element in Boney’s compositions. It makes sense, given that Boney is a language preservationist for the Language Technology Program, a division of the Cherokee Nation that works with companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook to ensure that the Cherokee language is available on their products.
“Through my art and my day job, I’m trying to help perpetuate the language,” he says. “I like including it in my art. I always try to put in a phrase that is integrated with what the piece is doing.”
As Boney continues to tell visceral tales with pens, brushes, and pixels, bringing vivid motion to the world of two-dimensional art, his own story as an artist continues its onward course. With the Cherokee Homecoming Art Show in August, a new story in an upcoming Graphic Classics Native American volume, and plans for his second feature in Indian Country Today magazine, Boney’s horizon is burning bright.
“He grows; he keeps moving,” says Wiggins. “Those are the artists you want to watch and encourage. That’s the mark of someone who has talent.”
Get There: Roy Boney Jr.’s work will be shown at the Cherokee Homecoming Art Show at the Cherokee Heritage Center, August 25-October 7. 21192 South Keeler Drive in Park City, (918) 456-6007 or cherokeeheritage.org. In November, his art will appear in the 2012 Art en Capital Salon du Dessin et de la Peinture à l’Eau at the Grand Palais in Paris. Galleries that sell Boney’s work include Tribes 131 in Norman (405/329-4442 or southwestindianarts.net), the Cherokee Arts Center in Tahlequah (918/453-5728), and the Cherokee Heritage Center. For samples of Boney’s work, visit roysunshine.com.