Choctaw Cultural Centre: Acoustic panels double as traditional art

To honor, share, and celebrate the beautiful complexities of the Choctaw Culture, the Choctaw Cultural Centre was commissioned. A variety of custom acoustic solutions were installed in the space, doubling as traditional art through which elements of the Choctaw story are told.

The history of the Choctaw Nation is rich and complex—a story woven with strands of pain, pride, courage, and resilience. The first nation to be forced off their ancestral lands entirely, the Choctaw people took the harrowing, horrific journey known as the ‘Trail of Tears’ in the winter of 1831—walking over 5,043 miles without any food, supplies, or help from the government who evicted them. Now, through intentional preservation of the rituals, practices, and language of their ancestors, the Choctaw Nation is a thriving 200,000 strong community based in their adopted home of Oklahoma. To honor, share, and celebrate the beautiful complexities of their culture, the Choctaw Cultural Center was commissioned—with work on the center beginning in 2018 for a 2020 opening.

Sprawling across approximately 98,000 square feet, the grounds of the Cultural Center are home to numerous cultural artifacts including traditional art, dioramas, landscapes, a living village, and a café that serves traditional cuisine. Like most museums, the interior space is designed to encourage contemplation and meaningful interaction with the exhibits. 42 Choctaw artists have come together to work on the project, creating artifacts for the displays through traditional methods—some reviving practices that haven’t been seen in 300 years.

Due to the significance of each artifact—and the weight of the nation’s identity and ancestral spirit carried by the exhibits—the space needed to cater for the intimacy of cultural reconnection and discovery, whilst facilitating large groups. However, with hard stone floors and high ceilings, acoustic treatment was necessary for a peaceful, balanced environment. The solution was to line the ceilings and walls with printed ½” Cube panels—a high performance acoustic solution that doubles as a creative medium—with a special custom cut Cube feature in the theater.

For the ceiling, 15,000 ft2 of Cube panels were printed with a rivercane basket weave pattern—the single traditional art for which Choctaw people are most widely recognised. Where specified, the walls are also lined with 2500 ft2 of Cube, however here they were decorated with an organic oak leaf pattern, reminiscent of the oak trees that lined the river banks where their ancestors sat to weave baskets. To ensure a smooth, hassle free install, each panel was trimmed so that they matched perfectly, and a step and repeat method was used to guarantee pattern continuity. Cut to resemble the sprawling woodgrain of an ancient tree, the Cube feature in the theatre is double layered, with water cut Cube in Empire overlayed on an Petronas Cube backing.

“Traditional art focuses on skills and knowledge passed down through generations, and while this type of art may be beautiful, its function and usefulness in a culture is what makes it valuable”, an article on the project explains. Referring particularly to the artifacts on display, this perspective is also reflected in the acoustic treatment; adorned with treasured representations of traditional craft, the panels are an artifact in themselves.

“Traditional art focuses on skills and knowledge passed down through generations, and while this type of art may be beautiful, its function and usefulness in a culture is what makes it valuable”

The Printer

A medium for creative expression, Print allows for complete design freedom. Achieve natural high-end finishes without the cost, weight, and rigidity of materials such as timber, tile, and marble. Print solid colour, intricate patterns, and contemporary designs to create striking acoustic art pieces. Easy to colour match, we can print to your selected CMYK or Pantone palette ensuring colour continuity throughout your design.

With endless colour, pattern, texture, and graphic possibilities, Print gives new meaning to the word custom.