(1941 – 1967)
Tribal Affiliation: Creek Seminole
Jerome Tiger’s legacy has been a body of exquisite art work, which for its time, revolutionized American Indian art. The success and genius of Tiger’s art can be attributed to what was called the Tiger style–a unique combination of spiritual vision, humane understanding, and technical virtuosity. Although his subject matter and composition is traditional, it is a major departure from previous classical Indian art. With little formal training, Tiger began seriously painting in the early 1960s producing art which received numerous awards and recognition. Characteristic of all great art, Tiger’s work has universal appeal. Its beauty and deep spirituality speak to people of all races, not just Native Americans.
Jerome began to paint “Indian style” in 1962. Nettie Wheeler of Muskogee, OK, recognized Jerome’s talent & encouraged him in his artistic endeavors. Jerome submitted his early work to the 1962 Philbrook Art Center’s Annual Indian Art Exhibition. Nearly all of Jerome’s paintings sold on the opening night. Jerome was asked to produce more paintings to replace those sold. Before the close of the exhibition, Jerome had replaced his paintings twice.
Tiger’s style has had a tremendous major influence in the development of contemporary Indian art influencing other Indian artists who have succeeded him. Since 1970, thirty-three of Tiger’s paintings have been reproduced as limited edition prints by the Jerome Tiger Art Company, a family owned business. Many of the prints are sold-out and are only available on the secondary market.
A Creek-Seminole, Jerome Tiger grew up on the camp grounds surrounding his grandfather’s Indian Baptist church near Eufala, Oklahoma. He attended school on the camp grounds and later in Muskogee learning English and enjoying white culture, such as running water and telephones. Although Tiger was a high school dropout, he excelled at street and ring fighting. He left a wife and three children at his death from a unintentional self-inflicted gunshot injury.