Norman Daly and the Oneida Stone

In 1958, Norman Daly, a Cornell art professor, entered a contest sponsored by the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, NY. The assignment was to create a mural design for a new bank in Utica. It is likely that Daly, who had a deep regard for the art of native peoples, chose the mural’s theme –The Legend of the Oneida Stone. Daly’s entry was the winning design for which he received two cash prizes. No documentation has been found concerning a proposed size for the completed mural, but since a commission from the bank did not come through the mural was never executed.

Daly’s demo mural consisted of five contiguous panels, forming a 16 inch by 8 foot-4-inch long modello. The panels, stored in Daly’s residence, were recently found while archival preparations were undertaken. Efforts are underway to find a permanent home for the mural design.

Painting by Norman Daly consisting of three colorful 'panels' with mythical human and animal figures
‘Rain Prayers’ by Norman Daly | Oil on Canvas | 1947

Looking back over Daly’s life and work, it is significant that he chose a theme that represents the Oneida Nation and the Travels of the Oneida Stone. As an art student at the University of Colorado he had immersed himself in and acquired a life-long reverence for the art of the Native Americans of the Southwest, particularly the Pueblo Nations. Daly’s striking Southwest series of paintings (1945-48) is a substantial homage to the arts of Native peoples which Daly described as having made “splendid artistic contributions.” It seems perfectly fitting that through his mural design Norman Daly would honor one of New York State’s Native American Nations.