TC Cannon | Mystic Smile



In this 1972 drawing by T.C. Cannon, the artist has depicted a woman reclining, gazing off toward a focal point unknown to the viewer. The simple reductivity of the line drawing is captivating and lush in its minimalism. The sitter’s figure is angular, slender and relaxed, softened further by the warm yet somewhat mysterious smile. Cannon had a prolific habit of sketching throughout his relatively short life; he died in an automobile accident in 1978 outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. This work is from that time. It exudes a gentle power of pen and ink, of the cis-female form, and of line.

Ink on paper
10 x 13 in
Gift of Dr. Rennard Strickland
Image by Craig Smith for Heard Museum

T.C. Cannon
Kiowa, 1946-1978
T.C. Cannon was one of the most innovative and influential Indigenous artists of the 20th century. Though Cannon died at the young age of 31 in a tragic car accident outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, his brief career has left an indelible mark on the history of art. His work examined the sociopolitical climate of the 1960s and 1970s in America and shared his experiences and observations through a fresh visuality blending Indigenous elements, pop art and richly saturated hues into a painterly style all his own. Cannon’s work has been exhibited in group shows and solo exhibitions both domestically and internationally, as well as in a major solo exhibition at the Heard Museum in 2017, Of God and Mortal Men.