T.C. Cannon (1946-1978) Biography

Tommy Wayne (T.C.) Cannon was a leader among the first group of Native artists whose work addressed the tensions of being a modern Native in an Anglo-dominated world.  He grew up in southern Oklahoma with his Kiowa father and Caddo mother, though as an adult, he chose to enroll in the Kiowa nation.  Cannon studied art in high school and was heavily influenced by Stephen Mopope and other members of the “Kiowa Six.”  He studied under Fritz Scholder at the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe from 1964 to 1966, with fellow students Doug Hyde, Earl Biss, and Kevin Red Star.  Shortly after graduation Cannon joined the US Army and served in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968, earning two bronze stars.  After discharge he attended University of Central Oklahoma and later moved to Santa Fe.  In 1972, Cannon and Scholder had a two-person show at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art.  The following six years were his most productive, and he was scheduled for his first one-person show at Aberbach Gallery in New York in October 1978.  Tragically, Cannon was killed in an automobile accident in May of that year.  The exhibit opened in December 1979 as T.C. Cannon: A Memorial Exhibition and traveled to museums around the country.  Despite his short career, Cannon’s innovations in style and content made him one of the most influential Native artists of the 20th century.