T.C. Cannon was born in Lawton, Oklahoma to a Kiowa father and a Caddo mother. His early life was spent near the Zoltone springs in Southern Oklahoma. As a teenager, the family moved to the Gracemount area where he attended the local high school. He displayed a talent for drawing and writing at an early age, winning numerous awards for his artwork around the Gracemount and Anardako areas.
Cannon went on to attend the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico from 1964-1966. His sense of humor was apparent early on at I.A.I.A. He was one of the first Native artists to use imagery of Indians in native clothes wearing designer sunglasses or paintings titled: “Mama and Papa Have the Going Home to Shiprock Blues”.
After graduating from I.A.I.A., Cannon studied briefly at the San Francisco Art Institute. He later quit school to enlist in the army. While serving with the 101st airborne he was awarded numerous medals, including two bronze stars. Following his discharge from the army, he attended Central State in Edmond, Oklahoma before moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico. He passed away in 1978 in New Mexico.
T.C. Cannon left behind a wealth of work that continuous to add to his growing frame and reputation. T.C. Cannon’s works of art continue to inspire and influence artists who have come after him, making him one the most influential and important native artists in the Southwest.