Caddo artist Chase Kahwinhut Earles has unveiled his latest creations at the Dallas Museum of Art, marking a triumphant return after a devastatingly senseless act of destruction destroyed some of his work.

The story begins with a vandal’s rampage through the Dallas Museum of Art, which destroyed various artifacts and fine pieces of work, including a meticulously crafted four-foot ceramic alligator gar fish by Earles, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Brian Hernandez, 21, was arrested in 2022 at the museum after forcibly entering and causing extensive damage totaling over $5 million. Hernandez reportedly broke in by smashing the museum’s glass front entrance with a metal chair after hours.

Hernandez confessed to police that he committed the vandalism because he was “mad at his girl.”

“It was really shocking, but it was also devastating because getting a work of art into the Dallas Museum of Art is huge,” Earles told KERA News.

The original sculpture, a tribute to the ancient alligator gar fish endemic to the Caddo homeland, was a symbol of Earles’ cultural heritage.

According to King Galleries, Earles is among the few Caddo potters active today. His pottery pieces undergo a unique process: They are hand-burnished using a rock to achieve a glassy finish without any glaze. Before firing, he hand-carves ancient designs featuring images that showcase the origin stories of the Caddo people.

Undeterred by the setback, the Dallas Museum of Art quickly commissioned Earles to create three new pieces, reported KERA.

For Earles, this commission was not just a creative opportunity but a chance to embody the Caddo tradition of resilience and renewal. The museum provided Earles with fragments of the original alligator gar to incorporate into the clay for the new pieces.

Earles is also venturing into literature, currently working on a book inspired by ancient Caddo fish dances and the symbolism of the alligator gar fish.

“These pieces that are going in the Dallas Museum of Art, they’re all illustrative of this story, so when I finally do release the book, they’ll carry it,” Earles told KERA.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, in May, Dallas voters approved a substantial $75.2 million bond to renovate some of the city’s most neglected arts facilities.

The Dallas Museum of Art is slated to receive the largest share of the bond, with $20 million of taxpayer money allocated for repairs.