TheDiane Kopec Collection Fund at the Abbe Museum was created to acquire works by living Native American artists. The collection reflects the vitality and vibrancy of Native American art today, and we recently added a birchbark box by Maliseet artist Gina Brooks to this important collection.
The imagery on the box includes the wampum pattern representing the Wabanaki Confederacy, the people holding up that confederacy, and on the lid, the double curve that represents the unity of the four tribes. Native people sent and received Wampum woven into belts as a form of communication. Through the geometric patterns of the beads, Native people wove wampum designs to remember and recall important events like oral histories, treaties, and agreements. These belts were brought back and forth from important events, and passed down from generation to generation.
Gina Brooks, Maliseet, is from St. Mary’s First Nation in New Brunswick, Canada, and resides in nearby Fredericton. She considers herself an artist informed by Wabanaki traditional knowledge, and 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. Her basketry and print art has been commissioned by private art collectors and Aboriginal organizations across Canada, and her work has been exhibited at the Charlotte Street Arts Center in Fredericton, Sudbury Nature Center in St. Andrews, (Weaving Traditions), and is featured in the New Brunswick Museum’s Wabanaki contemporary art collection.