Charles Banks Wilson
Class of 0
Charles Banks Wilson – Fayetteville, AR
Artist, Lithographer, Teacher & Historian
Oklahoma Capital Building Muralist
Charles Banks Wilson (born 1918) is an American artist. Wilson was born in Arkansas in 1918, his family eventually moving to Miami Oklahoma where he spent his childhood. A painter, printmaker, teacher, lecturer, historian, magazine and book illustrator, Wilson's work has been shown in over 200 exhibitions in the United States and across the globe.
Permanent collections of Wilson's work are housed in some of the most renowned museums and art galleries in the world. These include New York's Metropolitan Museum, Washington's Library of Congress, the Corcoran Gallery, the Oklahoma State Capital, and the Smithsonian.
Wilson graduatedfrom Miami HighSchool in 1936 and enrolled in the Chicago Art Institute in 1937 to study painting, watercolor and lithography. He obtained an apprenticeship as an illustrator at the Chicago Tribune, and contributed to a folio for the American Art Association. Many of Wilson’s works hang in the Oklahoma State Capitol including life-size portraits of Will Rogers, Sequoyah, Carl Albert, and Senator Robert Kerr. Four other murals depicting Oklahoma history also hang under the Capitol dome.
In addition to being the author and editor of a standard work on the Indian Tribes of Eastern Oklahoma, he is also the illustrator of 22 books and has contributed illustrations to many more.
Children attending Oklahoma schools studied from a history textbook that contained over 50 of his drawings. His works include prize-winning books such as the classic Treasure Island, Company of Adventurers, Henry's Lincoln, and Mustangs. Writers have said that the paintings by Charles Banks Wilson breathe the spirit of the southwest. Commissioned by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1995, Wilson's mural "The Trapper's Bride" is among the most superb records of the American West's fur trade.
Wilson's famous portrait sitters include U.S. House Speaker Carl Albert, whose portrait is the first to hang in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., prior to permanent installation in the U.S. Capitol Speaker's Gallery. The four mural-sized portraits of Will Rogers, the Indian Sequoyah, U.S. Senator Robert Kerr, and athlete Jim Thorpe are viewed by over a million visitors per year at the Oklahoma Capital. He is best known for his pictures of contemporary Indian life. The "Ten Little Indians" portfolio created by Wilson has been reproduced in every country in the world.
Honored by the U.S. State Department as well as the International Institute of Arts and Letters in Geneva, Charles Banks Wilson received the first Governor's Art Award and the D.S.C. (Distinguished Service Citation ) from the University of Oklahoma. Wilson is also honored in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, received the Western Heritage award from the Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Wilson created the designs for "The First American Series", basalt medallions depicting famous Indian chiefs, which were produced by Josiah Wedgewood and Sons, Inc., England. One major undertaking was creating the murals for the Oklahoma Capitol, which depict the state's discovery, frontier trade, Indian immigration, settlement, and overall history. These murals total 110 feet in length.
Wilson established the Art Department at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, which he chaired for 15 years; and the Charles Banks Wilson Scholarship has helped many young artists who have wanted to study there.
Wilson is a Fellow of the International Institution of Arts and Letters, a member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arkansas Arts Council. He has also been awarded the Oklahoma Governor’s Art Award and was the subject of a documentary titled ‘Portrait of an American Artist.’
May 9th, 2007 “Charles Banks Wilson Day” was confirmed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma State Senate.
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