Biography for Tom Fields
"Photography has opened a door for me to explore the world," says Tom Fields, "it's a cultural sojourn that continually becomes a new and dynamic adventure." Born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma in 1951, Fields is member of the Cherokee and Creek tribes.
Fields exhibiting career begin when two of his photographs were accepted to Tulsa's Philbrook Museums Annual Indian Art show in 1979, 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 begun to change over the years. In 1996, his photographs received honors in the Red Earth Art Show, and Lawrence, Kansas Art show. In 1998, at Santa Fe Indian Market, he received best of show in the photography category.
Recently his work is part of the contemporary art exhibit, "Who Stole the Teepee," at the National Museum of the American Indian, New York City. Also his work is in a traveling exhibition entitled “ Faith and Belief
Fields has participated in a number of photography exhibits, such as group shows in Los Angeles, California, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and a one man show at the Native and Inuit Photographers Gallery in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. "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 there and experience the moment."
To accurately portray Native peoples lives one must understand the soul of what makes us persevere. For me it's being able to experience the depth of our culture, which is more than just artifacts, art, or dance. Its the everyday events such as the dinners, spiritual ceremonies, adoptions, namings, births and graduations. Ignoring or unable to see the subtle, a visitor may only focus on the principle activity during a Native gathering.
I view this arena as the metaphoric “ground” that is created by the very existence of who we are. True awareness is the ability to perceive not only the people but also the "ground." It is a dynamic network of cultural beacons that guide us through our lives.
It’s important for me to have a photographic document of people I know, and the events of the day. Many of the people I have photographed have passed on to the spirit world. I am thankful to have a record of their legacy. I want my children to see and hear stories about their accomplishments, and be inspired as I was.