Tom Fields (artist)

Last updated
Tom Fields
Nationality Muscogee (Creek) Nation
Known forphotography
Spouse Anita Fields

Tom Fields (born 1951) is a Muscogee Creek/Cherokee photographer from Oklahoma. [1] He has worked in both commercial and fine art photography during his career. Fields specializes in full-frame, black-and-white photos, shot as close as possible, of American Indian communities. For Fields, his work provides a "visual definition of what it is like to be Native American in Oklahoma." [2]


Early life

Tom Fields was born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in 1951. His father was a minister, so the family moved all over eastern Oklahoma and Kansas. Fields' earliest exposure to photography was in helping his father prepare slides for church services with his father's Instamatic camera. After he graduated from high school, Fields moved to California and became more involved with American Indian youth activities, such as the National Indian Youth Council. [2]

In 1969, Fields was a student at University of California, Los Angeles, for a summer workshop involving graphite drawings. He eventually studied political science at the university. After his time in California, Fields returned to Oklahoma where he became involved at the University of Oklahoma with Indian student programs. In the mid to late 1970s, Fields helped out with a documentation project with the goal of capturing Native ceremonies and events on video and archiving them. After this project, he began to hang around friends associated with the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). During this time, Fields was exposed to printing photographs and was intrigued by the process. After this exposure, he started shooting and printing on his own. Fields and his friends were not a students at IAIA, but were taking part in photography and film projects around the area. [2]

In 1978, Fields enrolled as an art major at Northeastern State University with his focus being in photography. Fields' work at the time was inspired by Life (magazine) photographer, Eugene Smith.

Fields' photographs were the first ever to be accepted to the Indian Annual exhibition at the Philbrook Museum of Art. [3]


Fields' documentary photography is inspired by "the emotional landscapes of Native people." [4] His photographs often display detailed moments of spiritual and/or cultural expression. [5]

Exhibitions and awards

Fields began to exhibit his work in 1979. Some of these places include:

In 2011, his work, “Nativescapes: A View from the Interior,” was displayed at the Oklahoma State Capitol Complex in Oklahoma City. [6]

Fluent Generations: The Art of Anita, Tom and Yatika Fields (2018) at the Sam Noble Museum in Norman, Oklahoma, featured work by Tom, his wife, and son. [7] Curator Dan Swan also edited a catalogue for the exhibition.

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  1. "Multimedia and Performance". Noksi Press. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 Pearson - Little Thunder, Julie (April 11, 2013). "Oral history interview with Tom Fields". Oklahoma Native Artists. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  3. "ART, AMERICAN INDIAN". Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  4. "Tom Fields". Oklahoma Arts Council. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  5. "Photography". Native Fields Art. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  6. "Capitol Exhibit Features Rare View into American Indian Culture". Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  7. "Exhibitions". Sam Noble Museum. Retrieved 23 July 2020.