Swineford’s prints capture Christmas Past in art show

“Three Western Wise Man on Horseback on Hill” demonstrates former OCW/OCLA/USAO art department chair Derald Swineford’s talent for mixing Christmas and western themes in his yearly linocut print. A complete collection of Swineford’s prints is on display in the Nesbitt Gallery at USAO through Dec. 5.

Swineford’s prints capture Christmas Past in art show


The sustained creativity and generosity of spirit of one of the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s most important and enduring art faculty will be on display through December 5.

Christmas Past is a collection of linocut prints by Derald Swineford, who was the head of the art department at the Oklahoma College for Women, Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts and the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma from 1946 through 1977.

The show is free and open to the public. The Nesbitt Gallery is located in Davis Hall and is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Swineford prepared one of these prints each Christmas as gifts for friends, students and colleagues.

The show brings the entire collection of Swineford’s prints together.

The earliest, completed in 1940 and 1941, were done before he left to fight in World War II, and the rest were completed between 1946 and 1983.

The pieces through 1960 mostly draw upon the Southwestern themes with which Swineford’s work is associated.

After 1960, Swineford cleverly blends his regionalist themes with Christmas iconography. In one print, he substitutes cowboy figures for the three wise men and, in another, American Indians.

The gallery’s director, Layne Thrift, is excited to get Swineford’s work back in front of the public.

“Until very recently, all of our art faculty, myself included, were either Derald’s students or students of his students, so we put this show up with a proud sense of lineage,” Thrift said. “It’s important for our students and the community to see the rich legacy that this art department has inherited and continues to extend even today.”

The linocut prints are prepared by carving the drawing backwards into a piece of linoleum, called a matrix. The matrix is inked and then run through a press many times.

“Derald signed and dated every one of the prints, but he didn’t number them,” Thrift said. “As a result, we don’t know how many of these are still floating around out there.

“Virginia Embry, a long-time registrar for OCW and OCLA, made it a personal quest to seek out the estate sales of OCW alumna to try and recover as many of the prints as she could. She managed to put together two complete sets, which her niece inherited.”

Swineford’s son, John Swineford, loaned the pieces in the show to the gallery.

Thrift said that, upon the show’s end, John Swineford has pledged 25 of the prints to the USAO Permanent Collection.

“That will give us an amazing start to hunt down the remaining ten so that we’ll have a complete set of our own,” Thrift said.

More information about the show or the gallery can be obtained by calling 574-1239 or by visiting the gallery online at