Twisted Path III: Questions of Balance
, the latest exhibit in the
, will open in February 2014 and invites artists to consider their personal and cultural connection to place, and how they communicate this through their artwork. Whether from a sense of comfort and pride in one’s homeland, or criticism about the condition of our planet and concerns about environmental genocide, the works of each artist offer a unique perspective expressed through their art. This exhibit will bring together artists engaging in conversations nationally, sharing their voices and experiences to Abbe visitors.
In keeping with our charge to develop Native voice as primary voice in our exhibits and programs, Rick Hunt (Abenaki) will serve as co-curator with Raney Bench, the Abbe’s Curator of Education. Raney and George Neptune (Passamaquoddy), Museum Educator, have designed a program series to accompany this exhibit that includes a variety of artists, media, and learning experiences which will be scheduled throughout 2014. We have recently
in support of the exhibit and accompanying programs.
Eleven artists will join us for this exhibit. Over the next few months, we will profile those artists here. First, we'd like to welcome
, fashion designer from the Taos Peublo, and Gina Brooks, Maliseet ink and pen artist from Maine.
is a traditional native woman who is a style-maker at the forefront of modern fashion design and aesthetics. She creates boldly hip designs with a quality of timeless elegance. Michaels spent her youth between Santa Fe, where her parents operated their art gallery, and Taos Pueblo. In 1985 she apprenticed with the Santa Fe Opera’s costume designer, and then went on to the Institute of American Indian Arts where she studied graphic design, jewelry and traditional techniques. In 2001, after working in Chicago at the Field Museum and an art gallery, she apprenticed with a tailor in Milan, Italy. Michaels later brought her son and daughter with her to New York where she worked in the city’s garment district. After two years there, Michaels developed her own collection, becoming the first Native American to feature a label at the prestigious New York Fashion Week. Michaels competed in the 2013 season 11 of the popular show Project Runway, finishing as runner up and a fan favorite. Now based back home in Taos, Patricia exhibits her work in museums and at fashion weeks in New York and Santa Fe, and her innovative designs have garnered top honors at Santa Fe Indian Market.
Artist Statement for
Twisted Path III
"I create highly individualized pieces that are elegant, fluid, sophisticated, and organic by fusing my own aesthetic with indigenous and European
The detail of every garment, from hand-painted silk feathers, and meshed leather to textures that echo the natural world, I evoke my own history and culture as part of a larger timeless narrative.
Each design tells a story. Just as a river is pierced by a tree branch, time is momentarily anchored within the garment. Each piece is created, is worn, and continues to create fresh new meanings into the future. Every person brings his or her own sense of self into the narrative and enriches the meaning. In this way, we might defy the consumerist sense of fashion as something we can put on, take off, and casually cast aside."
is a Maliseet from St. Mary’s First Nation (in New Brunswick, Canada), and resides at Pleasant Point, Maine. She considers herself an artist informed by Wabanaki traditional knowledge. Her art includes brown ash basketry, porcupine quill and birch bark basketry, carving, and print making. Her original prints include acrylic and ink, and lithographs, monotypes, and copper etch plating. She is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in Native Studies at St. Thomas University, Fredericton, NB.
Her basketry and print art has been commissioned by private art collectors and aboriginal organizations from across Canada. Her work has been exhibited in 2011 in a group exhibit at the Charlotte Street Arts Center in Fredericton, NB, Sudbury Nature Center in St. Andrews, NB (Weaving Traditions), and is featured in the New Brunswick Museum’s Wabanaki contemporary art collection in St. John, NB.
Artist Statement for
Twisted Path III
My life is informed by Wabanaki traditional knowledge. My art is inspired by my people, our homeland and things that have historical significance and spiritual depth, which I attempt to communicate in my art. I see art as an opportunity to learn about myself thought ancient stories, symbols, motifs and language. Wabanaki belief systems are woven and etched within the portals and layers of our sacred mother—
My intention is to share examples of Wabanaki art, with their diverse and powerful designs—many of which have also served a very practical purpose in the everyday lives of generations of living and breathing people. Art to the Wabanaki people is an essential aspect of their humanity and a reflection of a communal, spiritual well-being and love of life that flows through the essence of its being—
Beyond technical rendering of the subject, I have extensively researched the historical background of Wabanaki material culture and the spiritual, symbolic significance of distinctive traditional designs. My hope is to gain knowledge and share understanding that can deepen the appreciation of our homeland and my people, a unique experience that can enrich the lives of all people and their environment. In fact, for me, my subject helps in the creation of itself, informs the creative choices I make, and gives the artistic process depth and meaning. I let no social, political, or religious standards interfere with this process. I create from my own truth.
Wabanaki reality is best understood through the traditional language and storytellers, and stories of a creator who is constantly transforming and shape-shifting. Using Wabanaki oral stories, I am better able to deconstruct and reconstruct ideas about Wabanaki present-day issues, and help serve as a portal for the ancient transformative process.
These pieces call on the people of the earth to write a new story in the language of the old ones, a new pipe to signify the commitment to our ancient beliefs and to embrace the sacred journey of giving thanks for life.
Teach the world “
mikw ciw psiw-
– give thanks to the earth for everything it gives.