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Antonia Belindo



Antonia’s advice to future OU students:  

Your time here is short. Here at OU, it doesn’t last long. Whether it’s a traditional four years or extended, it goes by so quickly. Enjoy your time. Leave your mark. Continue being your ancestors’ wildest dreams.”  



Print of Kiowa Blackleggins,' 1990 Serigraph, Dennis Belindo

Where to find Dennis’s work on campus

Beginning in early March, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art will open an exhibition that will feature Dennis's "Kiowa Blackleggins'". The museum holds 11 works by Dennis in their permanent collection, and viewing can be scheduled by appointment. In the Bizzell Memorial Library, a piece by Dennis is on public display. Two pieces of Dennis's work, Eagle Dance (1979) and Black leg Society Dancers (1979), are located in the Art Collection space at the Sam Noble Museum. The Art Collection space is accessible by appointment. 

From OU's School of Visual Arts to Choctaw Nation's installation walls, learn how Antonia Belindo creates art inspired by heritage

Pictured: Lucille Bigbow

Before Antonia Belindo, a Kiowa artist and OU's American Indian Programs & Services Coordinator, stepped foot on the University of Oklahoma’s campus, her future was already cemented by the legacy left at OU by her late grandfather and accomplished artist, Dennis Belindo. 

Her grandfather graduated from OU with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Fine Arts. Throughout Antonia’s childhood, Dennis, along with her grandmother Lucille Bigbow, helped instill Antonia’s identity as a Kiowa woman, the connections she has with other tribes, and how to interact with the world to create art.

Pictured from left to right: Barry Belindo and Dennis Belindo

Who is your family? 

When Antonia was 17, she lost her grandfather. Although he had passed, Dennis was able to be with her on the day she visited campus for the first time.

“When I came to OU with my mom to enroll, we wanted to find his paintings,” Antonia said. “We knew they were here. We went to the School of Art, and met the director, who happened to be a Creek woman named Mary Jo Watson. She pulled us aside in the middle of the summer, into an empty building and asked, ‘Who are you? Where are you from? What tribe are you and who is your family?’” 

On discovering Antonia’s connection with Dennis, Watson pulled an instructor aside to evaluate Antonia’s portfolio on her phone. 

“I was enrolled in classes that day,” Antonia said. “I think that was something that came together how it should be.” 

Pictured from left to right: Antonia Belindo and Arlene Belindo

My proudest moment

When Antonia graduated from OU with a Bachelor of Arts, her mentor and printmaking professor, Marwin Begaye, gave her the opportunity to live paint at a gala. 

“I was the youngest there, the only woman,” Antonia said. “When describing the gala to my mother, she asked, ‘What do we need to do? What do I need to do? How can I get a ticket?’” 

For the gala, Antonia’s mother made a traditional native shawl that matched the theme and wore it as Antonia painted.

“It’s one of my proudest moments,” Antonia said. “I was painting, and she was watching me. I couldn’t see her; I had my back to her the whole time. But she was there. That’s the proudest moment I could have, the opportunity to have her there.”

Since her mother’s passing, Antonia believes that her mother's support shaped Antonia into being the strong Kiowa woman she is today.

Respect Our Protectors

Antonia was commissioned by Choctaw Nation to create an installation piece that would represent the Choctaw people. With 20 hanging umbrella pieces and several canvases decorating the space, Antonia created “Respect Our Protectors.”

“Each umbrella has an abstract take on the diamond symbol that is signature to Choctaw people and Choctaw Nation,” Antonia said. “It goes back to the Diamond-backed snake and the diamond shape it has. We are taking care of our land just as much as these snakes, making sure to  take care of each other, and we are respectful of everything that is around us.” 

According to Antonia, the symbolism behind the umbrellas goes further. 

“Umbrellas are used in political and environmental activism, so whenever people are shooting tear gas or rubber bullets, umbrellas are our protection,” Antonia said. 

To view "Respect Our Protectors," it is on permanent display at Choctaw Casino & Resort in Durant, OK. 

Interested in connecting with Antonia and the American Indian Programs and Services?