IACA Journal, Spring 2014 - page 8

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IACA Journal | Spring 2014
Randy Chitto grew up in Chicago, Illinois after moving
there with his family in 1964. The Chitto family moved
from the Choctaw reservation in Mississippi as part of
the Indian Relocation Act of 1959. At an early age he
showed artistic talent, first by drawing in the dirt under
the family porch in Mississippi and later drawing in the
blank pages of any book he could get his hands on. His
family recognized his gift and was very supportive.
While in high school he was chosen, in a citywide competition, to be ad-
mitted to various specialized art classes at the Chicago Art Institute and the
Illinois Institute of Technology.
In 1980, Randy enrolled at The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe,
New Mexico. His main interest at that time was painting, but it was there he
discovered clay. Otellie Loloma was his first instructor in a medium he had
previously not worked with. Randy impressed Mrs. Loloma with each work
he produced in the class. He continued his study in clay with his friend and
mentor Ralph Pardington who taught the advance ceramic class. Mr. Pard-
ington allowed Randy to work late into the night, and many times he worked
all through the night. Seeing his potential, Mr. Pardington challenged him to
create his own style and work.
Meanwhile, he continued to enjoy working in two-dimensional art and took
painting classes with instructor Linda Lomahaftewa at IAIA. In 1983, he
graduated with both a 2 and 3 Dimensional Degree in Studio Art.
The turtle is Randy’s primary subject, for according to Choctaw legend, when
the Trail of Tears forced the tribe to relocate, its medicine people instruct-
ed the elders to share their stories with three sacred animals—the bear, the
raccoon, and the turtle. That way, if the people never returned, these animals
would keep their spirits alive. Ever since, the turtle has been both story keep-
Randy Chitto
Choctaw Clay Artist
Artist Profile
The turtle is Randy’s primary subject.
Randy uses bears are used to represent the male facet of the tribe with their strength and courage.
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