Choctaw Artist Creates Life-size Sculpture of Dixon Durant - - No One Gets You Closer

Choctaw Artist Creates Life-size Sculpture of Dixon Durant


DURANT -- Janie Umsted was born and raised in Durant.  She has been an artist since she was little.

"I come from a very artistic family and so it seemed very natural for me from a very young child to be an artist," says Umsted, formally known as Jane Semple-Umsted for her artwork.

Umsted went to the University of Oklahoma where she majored in sculpture.

And now she is a member of the Red River Arts Council in Durant.

"We had a goal to have a piece of a sculpture that would be here for a long, long time and we really want to do a bronze sculpture. So the Red River Arts Council sponsored a competition and I entered the competition and my piece was selected," explains Umsted.

"What I wanted to do and had been wanting to do for a long, long time was a sculpture, life-sized, for the founder of Durant. Rev. Dixon Durant. He's Choctaw. I'm Choctaw. He founded Durant in the 1860s. It just seemed like a very fitting thing for our city to have."

The project was quite a challenge for Umsted.

"It was the size that was a little bit scary for me but there was something guiding me the whole time thinking that I can do it."

One hundred and sixty pounds of clay and one and a half years later Umsted finished the sculpture standing six and a half feet tall.

"We are extremely proud, we are proud of Janie, we are proud of our city, we are proud of the Red River Arts Council and being part of the board that had the dream to put this in place," says Dr. Gleny Beach, the incoming President for the Red River Arts Council.

Umsted has not seen her clay sculpture since March when it was sent to be covered in bronze.

"I realize its going to look a little bit different because of the fact when I saw it last it was in clay and when it comes back it will be in bronze."

The sculpture will be unveiled to the City of Durant next Tuesday, January 21st in market square at 3 o'clock.