WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Joseph R. Biden announced recently his intent to appoint Jane Semple Umsted, curator of the Semple Family Museum of Native American Art at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, to the Board of Trustees of the Institute of American Indian Arts.
In addition to her curation of the SFM, Umsted is an artist who has spent a lifetime working in a variety of media which includes oils, acrylics, watercolor, sculpture, and the unique media of batik. She is a descendent of two Choctaw Chiefs and her art exudes the spirit of her Native roots.
“It is such an honor to be appointed by President Biden to the Board of Trustees for the Institute of American Indian Arts. Many thanks to Chief Batton and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma for nominating me,” Semple Umsted said. “As Curator of the Semple Family Museum of Native American Art at Southeastern, I will have the pleasure of promoting Indian Art and Artist throughout the United States.”
Since childhood, Semple Umsted has been inspired by the themes and visual images of the Choctaw culture, which have become the inspiration of her artwork. Emphasis on vibrant color and dramatic design is one of the strongest and most dramatic elements of her work, and these qualities consistently permeate all aspects of the art she produces.
She received a B.F.A. from the University of Oklahoma in 1969 and an M.E. from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 1989. She retired from the Durant Public Schools where she was the art teacher for the Durant Middle School until 2007. She is a proud member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and has been a professional artist for over 50 years.
Semple Umsted is the owner of the Indian Territory Art Gallery in Durant.
“To have one of our Southeastern alumna and valued campus and community members recognized as a leader in their field is always an exciting accomplishment,” said Dr. Thomas W. Newsom, president of Southeastern. “Janie will be an excellent trustee of this valuable and important institute, and we are proud to have Southeastern represented by this presidential appointment.”
“Jane Semple Umsted is a brilliant artist as well as a loving and humble person,” said Chief Gary Batton, 47th Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. “She represents the Choctaw people so well in her artwork as well as her daily life. She is a shining star for the Choctaw Nation and is very deserving of this appointment.”
The Institute of American Indian Arts (formally known as the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts Development) is one of only three Congressionally chartered colleges.
It was originally established in 1962 as a high school under the auspices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It was formally established as a separate college by Congress in 1987.
The mission is “to empower creativity and leadership in Indigenous arts and cultures through higher education, lifelong learning, and community engagement.” Today, sixty years later, it continues to fill a vital role as the only fine arts college in the world dedicated to the study of contemporary Native American and Alaskan Native arts.