Nov 17, 2015

Oklahoma Aiukli

Western Avenue Association

This mural won the People's Choice Award for best Taste of Western mural in 2014. It spans 125 feet and took 3 weeks to paint.

Aiukli, Choctaw, noun, Translation: Beauty. These artists wanted to create something beautiful, meaningful, and long-lasting. When they were offered the this chance and given carte blanch to create a mural, their first thought was just to create something positive and uplifting that would be symbolic of all that is beautiful in Oklahoma. Finding a vision with all those qualities was not an easy task, but the answer came in the form of a 13-year old Choctaw girl named Bella Aiukli. As an active member of her tribe, she embodies many of the qualities that they wanted to convey in their piece. She’s connected to her roots in Oklahoma, but also a positive role-model to her peers and esteemed by everyone who knows her. They decided that she would represent Oklahoma as an entity. Her Choctaw heritage firmly rooted in the land, and her hopeful future as a native of this state. In addition to Bella as the central element, they decided to pull subjects from nature. In the mural you’ll find the buffalo, butterfly wings, catfish, scissor-tail feathers, bees, roses, and other natural elements. These elements are woven into Bella’s hair and head piece. They were careful to not appropriate any Native symbols that could be perceived as disrespectful, and created a modern & stylized look that is a departure from typical art with Oklahoma themed subject matter. 

We chose a bright palette of sky blue, orange & gold to represent the spectacular Oklahoma skies, with smaller elements colored in shades of blue, orange, coral red, teal green, and indigo. Our goal was to create a way for our mural to interact with the audience and allow them to connect with the art in their own ways. Our “Oklahoma Aiukli” has her hands outstretched as though she is carrying something precious. The audience will be able to “stand” in her outstretched hands and insert themselves into the modern Oklahoma mural bathed in white light.

Erin Cooper is the lead artist for the Oklahoma Aiukli. Cooper was born in a small fishing village on the Oregon Coast. She started painting when she was very young, and took her first college art class at 13. As one-half of the OKC-based creative studio CooperHouse, Erin spends her days branding small businesses and creating beautiful websites with her husband, Tim. She parents their two young girls, she runs a business, she designs, and she paints (and paints, and paints...). For the past five years, her journey as an artist has included abstract art in a variety of media, the most recent being acrylic, watercolor, and Prismacolor. She translates her love and admiration for those she holds dear into stunning portraits. Her style is marked by fearless use of color and detailed abstract compositions that reflect her creative – albeit a little chaotic – life.
Born and raised in Oklahoma, Amanda studied art and graphic design at the University of Central Oklahoma. She eventually left school to begin working on her own art and fashion projects and, in the summer of 2007, she moved her studio to the historic Plaza District in Oklahoma City where she currently resides. Over the years she has exhibited across the US, volunteered with various arts groups, organized large scale art events for the community, and opened up an artist retail store & gallery in 2008. She currently owns DNA galleries and works on her own artwork and line of accessories full time. You can view her site at
Erin Cooper, Amanda Bradway, Lauren Miller
Credits: All media
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