Donna Brown, Penobscot, handcrafts jewelry and traditional beadwork made from various metals, semi-precious gemstones, and glass beads. She uses stringing and metal shaping techniques to create various types of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, and also uses intricate beadwork techniques to create jewelry and regalia accessories by beading with cloth, leather, and a loom. She has beaded on items such as moccasins, shoes, belts, barrettes, shawls, earrings, and hair ties.
"My work is motivated by my desire to create colorful jewelry and regalia that will be passed on to future generations," Donna said in her fellowship application's artist statement. "I am inspired by the colors and elements of nature, as well as my Wabanaki culture, and I am passionate about creating miniature works of art that begin with a sketch or outline of a pattern and seeing it come to life through the work of my hands. It gives me great joy to see others enjoy and wear my creations, whether for everyday wear or worn specially for traditional gatherings."
Donna is working hard to build her business and cultivate her brand to a level of success that will allow her to broaden her reach into the jewelry and fashion industry.
"I feel once I have gained access to this industry, I can share the beauty and significance of our culture through my designs and creations. It is also my goal to teach others my skills to serve as a mentor and help keep our traditions alive."
In July, Donna attended the Native American Festival as an Abbe Museum Fellow. She and her husband, Jason, are the creative force behind Decontie & Brown and have been creating jewelry for the past 20 years.
"This fellowship will also support me by allowing me access to some of the tools and supplies that are needed to sharpen and polish my brand. By presenting my jewelry in a professional and attractive way, I add value to my creations, my brand, and to Native American jewelry and art. Wabanaki artists who attend the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance shows, are in the unique position of presenting their creations to collectors from around the world. My goal is to utilize this opportunity by attending these shows and presenting my creations in the same manner as top jewelry designers, utilizing cohesive display presentation and product packaging.
The Abbe Museum Wabanaki Artist Fellowships were made possible through support from Dawnland, LLC, the concessioner in Acadia National Park.