A painting, featuring a Native American woman's face, will hang within the walls of the Oklahoma State Capitol Building.

The work, handcrafted by Grove High School graduate Becca Lucky, was presented to Rep. Josh West (R-Grove) on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

The multi-media work, titled "A Story Behind Her," was created during Lucky's senior year in the art classes taught by Angie Duff.

It's one of two pieces of art, created by artisans living within West's District 5 region.

The second, a commissioned work, features a theme of Oklahoma History. It was created by Kit Coughran, the Jay High School art instructor, and also a graduate of Grove High School.

Showcasing art 

West said the desire to showcase district artists developed over the summer months. He said he wanted the artwork to highlight life within his district, as well as Oklahoma history.

"I'm in a position to not only highlight, but bring attention to the district and the people who live in it," West said. "[As well as] the positive things we do within our school systems for the arts.

Lucky's father, Tim, contacted West and told him about his daughter's painting, which won the third place award at last year's 31st Annual Greater Tulsa Indian Arts Festival, as well as first place overall in the 2017 Brush and Pallet Gallery student art show.  

West said Lucky's use of Native American history, as well as photos, to create her painting was "unique."

"I've never seen anything like this before," West said, adding hanging the painting in his Oklahoma City office allows hip to not only showcase an area artist, but also the work of a Delaware County student.

In the painting, Lucky used coffee and fire to stain and burn copies stories found from people on the Trail of Tears. 

She used a mixture of photographs, featuring individuals from Oklahoma tribes, as well paint, to create the mix-media work.

She hopes the piece reminds viewers of the history behind the trail of tears, as well as Oklahomans resilience.

She said it also shows how Oklahomans do a good job uniting - rather than dividing - the various tribal members. 

Lucky donated her work to West, rather than accept money. She said she was simply excited to see the painting be hung in the state capitol.

Coughran's painting was made from scratch using ideas taken from West, as well as the lessons from Coughran's classroom.

"I've known his family my whole life," West said. "This is special in so many ways. It's a one-of-a-kind work."

Coughran estimates it took more than 60 hours of "brush in hand" painting during the course of the last six months to complete the piece. 

He hopes his students are inspired to create their own works, big or small, after watching him devote time to the painting.

"I feel like art is an expression of the world around us," Coughran said. "It tells the past, and tells about the future. 

"Without art, we wouldn't have much of a presence."

Coughran said the painting he created for West not only showcases Oklahoma history at the time around statehood, but it also highlights what was happening within the global art community at the same time by using techniques of both Paul Cézanne and Pablo Picasso within the piece.

The painting features images embedded within the foundation of the state, including men working cattle, Geronimo who was held captive and later died at Ft. Sill, Sequoyah - who created a working language for the Cherokees, and even barbed wire, which changed the look of the Oklahoma plains.

"There's subtleties in the painting," Coughran said. "Those lead to more questions and ultimately history lessons." 

West purchased Coughran's painting using personal funds.

The monies raised from this painting, as well as other art club ventures, will be used by Coughran to work towards two goals: to bring local artisans to Jay High School to demonstrate Native American techniques - such as beading and basket making, and to purchase the equipment needed to help his students develop skills within the art industry which can translate into potential careers.

West said he hopes to acquire other pieces of art, as space allows within his office, in order to highlight additional artists from his district.