Connections to the land: Native artist Amber Du Boise-Shepherd is featured on cover of fall 2023 Sierra Magazine

Amber Du Boise-Shepherd’s art made the cover of the fall 2023 Sierra Magazine. Du Boise-Shepherd said her Navajo, Sac Fox and Prairie Band Potawatomi heritage have all influenced her style. (Photos/ Amber Du Boise-Shepherd)

Amber Du Boise-Shepherd’s art made the cover of the fall 2023 Sierra Magazine. Du Boise-Shepherd said her Navajo, Sac Fox and Prairie Band Potawatomi heritage have all influenced her style. (Photos/ Amber Du Boise-Shepherd)

SHAWNEE, Okla. — Amber Du Boise-Shepherd’s illustrations made the cover of Sierra magazine’s fall edition and the illustrations also appear along with the story “Unraveling Manifest Destiny” as the article talks about how tribal nations are buying back their land one parcel at a time.

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Du Boise-Shepherd’s painting took the cover spot for Sierra Magazine. (Photo/ Sierra Magazine)

Du Boise-Shepherd, who is Navajo, Sac Fox and Prairie Band Potawatomi, said she was thrilled about the experience because it gave her a chance to mix her culture with her beliefs about protecting the environment.

“Sierra Magazine honored my style,” she said. “The article shows the tribes have connection to the land.”

She said the editor reached out to her after seeing her art because they were interested in her woodlands tribal art in Oklahoma.

“I have been exposed to all three tribal heritages,” she said. “My upbringing showed there is a connection between all native nations and Mother Earth. It is sacred and that is how we connect with everything including animals, the flowers and nature. We are all stewards of the land.”

DuBoise-Shepherd said when walking on the earth into a hogan on Navajo or a lodge home made of wood on Sac and Fox, a person can feel the connection to the earth.

This is the first major magazine that has carried her illustrations, but her story has been in several others. She said she is accustomed to showing her work in galleries, museums and exhibitions, with Santa Fe Indian Market among her favorites. She was recently part of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame art exhibit.

Born and raised in Shawnee, Oklahoma, DuBoise-Shepherd’s mother is Navajo. DuBoise-Shepherd recalls learning to weave, herding sheep and playing in the dirt on the Navajo Nation as a child She also learned silversmithing. She said she learned beadwork an shawl style from her Potawatomie side.

“I grew up in a home immersed in different Native crafts,” she said. “I would be sitting on my grandmother’s lap and watching her weave.”

DuBoise-Shepherd learned turquoise inlay jewelry making from her Navajo side, but she also dabbled in European art as she mixed the two cultural art forms. Her father played the Native American flute, while her mother also taught her the importance of academics.

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Du Boise-Shepherd said her Navajo, Sac Fox and Prairie Band Potawatomi heritage have all influenced her style. (Photo/Amber Du Boise-Shepherd)

DuBoise-Shepherd earned an associate’s degree from Seminole State College before obtaining a BFA with a minor in business from Oklahoma State University. The education paid off as DuBoise-Shepherd became education and outreach director at Mabbe Gerren Museum of Art and currently serves as assistant director at the University of Oklahoma School of Visual Arts.

“I like working with students, so I’m showing others that you can do both: art and administration,” she said.

DuBoise-Shepherd periodically gives lectures and leads art classes around Oklahoma with classes sizes of 50-80 participants.

She said she enjoys watching the transition of weather when she travels from Oklahoma to Arizona.

“I like the wooded areas of Shawnee, Oklahoma, but nothing compares with the mountains of Arizona and New Mexico,” she said. “Oklahoma has these huge beautiful storms.”

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One of Amber's paintings used by Sierra Magazine. (Photo/Sierra Magazine)

For more information visit DuBoise-Shepherd’s website or email her at aldthewoods@gmail.com.

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