We are excited to announce the arrival of Dawn Spears, Narragansett/Choctaw, as the Abbe Museum Indian Market (AMIM) Producer. Please join us in welcoming her to the Museum and Bar Harbor!
As the AMIM Producer, her responsibilities focus on creating and launching the annual Abbe Museum Indian Market (inaugural event is May 18-20, 2018) and coordinating the activities, tasks, and events leading up to AMIM. Dawn has been working in the field for the last two decades, most recently as the Executive Director of Northeast Indigenous Arts Alliance (NIAA) where she worked to support the Native American artist population regionally by sharing resources and artist opportunities, addressing artist needs and seeking ways to increase the visibility in the northeast. Her role at NIAA formed from her prior role as the Native Arts Program Manager for New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) in Boston. In 2016, NIAA partnered with IFAM and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum to bring the first large Indigenous market to the east with “IFAM East."
Prior to joining NEFA, she devoted a decade to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation where she was involved in a variety of cultural initiatives, which included cultural education, powwow and dance troupe coordination, and language revitalization work. Dawn served as the Narragansett Tribe’s Tribal Secretary for two terms, and has also served on the board and volunteered at the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum. She was a member of Native Americans in Philanthropy, serving two terms on the Executive Board, (Secretary, Vice Chair).
She is a 2015 RI State Council for the Arts (RISCA) Master Apprenticeship grantee, and 2015 UPP Arts teaching artist and also served on the HopArts Artist Studio Trail planning committee and is now a member of the Community Advisory Board for the Institute for New England Native American Studies. In 2014, along with her husband they formed the Narragansett Food Sovereignty Initiative to bring a concept of healthy living by providing the Narragansett people access to food, health, and wellbeing, now and into the future through sustainable agriculture, economic development, community involvement, and educational programs.
Dawn is the wife of thirty-one years to Cassius and mother of three: Cassius Jr., Kiowa and Coty, and grandmother of five. A believer in the preservation and education of our culture and traditions, Dawn has been teaching and demonstrating for over 25 years in many forms of art and still works creatively when time allows, exhibiting and selling at local galleries and markets.
"I try to capture the vibrant colors of our natural world; they are my inspiration along with my appreciation of the symbolism within our indigenous culture. I enjoy opportunities that allow us to share our work and give us space to be able to dispel the myths and stereotypes that our people have been forced to endure. Misconceptions about Native American art continue today, for years I was discouraged from pursuing my own style of work because it was not “Native American” enough, it didn’t show horses, and scenes from the wild west.
I channel my creative focus in my work making a range of corn husk dolls, drawings, painting, jewelry design, and capturing the beauty of our natural work in photography. I work in both contemporary and traditional mediums; I use both traditional and unconventional tools. I like to experiment with these mediums and create amazing colors. In the last few years I have added custom sneakers and shoes to my list, and I even tagged my first pair of jeans. I feel like the possibilities are endless.
A Narragansett/Choctaw, my mother Diosa Summers, (Choctaw) was an artist and educator and I grew up attending and assisting her. She taught me the fundamentals early; I was immersed in the arts at a young age and I easily became an educator of Eastern Woodland Native Culture myself, my art and work professionally reflect all facets of my life. It was inevitable that I would end up with similar interests as my mother."