Wabanaki Artists from Maine Win Big at Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market

Geo Neptune's first place and Best of Class basket.

Geo Neptune's first place and Best of Class basket.

Geo Neptune, Passamaquoddy, won first place and Best in Class in Division A baskets (natural fibers and cultural forms) and Sarah Sockbeson, Penobscot, won second place in the same division at the 60th annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market on March 3-4, 2018. First-time attendee Jennifer Pictou, Micmac, won Honorable Mention in Division X (personal attire). 

“This was my first experience at the Market and I was so nervous,” said Pictou. “All I really wanted was to make a good showing for my ancestors and let them know I am keeping our art forms alive. I can’t begin to tell you how surprised and pleased I was to win a ribbon for my beadwork. I’m truly humbled at the outcome and am grateful for the opportunity to show what a contemporary Mi’kmaq bead artist can do in a forum where there are so many fantastic and accomplished bead workers from many tribal nations.”
Jennifer Pictou's Honorable Mention winning clutch. 

Jennifer Pictou's Honorable Mention winning clutch. 

Pictou lives for the flash-in-the-moment art, and she likes to create art that makes people think. At the same time, her art is also rooted in deep traditional ways like storytelling and she takes inspiration from her ancestors’ visual work and combines elements from other eras in both Native and non-Native imagery. She celebrates her ancestral voices by using traditional tribal forms and creating something new.

Neptune is a Master Basketmaker, a Drag Queen, an activist, and an educator, and a 2017 Abbe Museum Fellow. As a two-spirit—an Indigenous cultural gender role that is a sacred blend of both male and female—they have begun using their art as a way to start a dialogue regarding gender identity and expression, sexuality and sexual orientation, and colonization as a way to combine their activism and art. Their winning basket, Apikcilu Binds the Sun, is their first Best of Class ribbon at the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market. 

Sarah Sockbeson's second place basket.

Sarah Sockbeson's second place basket.

In 2004, Sockbeson learned the history, techniques, and art that has become modern Native basketry. Today, she harvests and prepares all her own material from scratch. Making baskets requires a great deal of gathering and Sockbeson does all the prep work herself since she believes the selection process is an art unto itself. After she selects a brown ash tree, it is cut, the bark is then pounded continuously, split, gauged (cut), dyed, and woven. Her goal is to embrace the modern world, combine natural elements with bright innovative colors and original designs to create a fresh approach to a timeless art form. 

Other Wabanaki artists invited to attend were Abbe Museum Trustee Jennifer Neptune, Penobscot, Gal Frey, Passamaquoddy, 2017 Abbe Museum Fellow Jeremy Frey, Passamaquoddy, and Molly Neptune Parker, Passamaquoddy. A complete list of artists can be found at http://heard.org/fair/the-fair/artists

The Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market draws nearly 15,000 visitors and more than 600 of the nation’s most outstanding and successful Native artists. Abbe Museum Indian Market Producer Dawn Spears, Narragansett/Choctaw, attended the Market to meet with artists about the Abbe Museum Indian Market coming up May 18-20, 2018, in downtown Bar Harbor. For more information, visit www.abbemuseum.org/indianmarket.  

Haunted Bar Harbor Walking Tours

Looking for something to do this weekend? Dawnland Tours, LLC is now offering Haunted Bar Harbor walking tours, and you can purchase your tickets at the Abbe Museum shop! The tours operate seven days a week through Labor Day.

“We are a 100% Native owned company with a staff of all-Wabanaki tour guides," said Jennifer Pictou, President and CEO, and a member of the Aroostook Band of Micmacs. "I’m looking forward to bringing a cross-cultural look to the ghostly side of Bar Harbor’s past, as well as tell some of the more fantastic tales of our Wabanaki heritage.” 

Prices are $15 per adult, $10 per child (6-12 years old), and children five and under are free. For tour times and ticketing, please stop by the Abbe Museum or visit www.dawnlandtours.com. Dogs are welcome!

Meet Abigail Dangler, Twisted Path III Intern

Over the past couple months, as a tremendous amount of hard work went into Twisted Path III: Questions of Balance, the exhibit team received help from Abbe volunteer and intern on the exhibit, Abigail Dangler. Abby is a senior at the Mount Desert Island High School and originally volunteered with the museum during the 2013 Gathering Gala. During December and January, Abby worked several afternoons a week, helping deconstruct Wabanaki Guides and prepare the exhibit hall for Twisted Path III. Now that the exhibit is up, we grabbed a few minutes of Abby’s time and asked her to reflect on her experience volunteering and interning at the museum.

What led to your interest in volunteering and then interning at the Abbe Museum?

I will be going to college soon, and I am interested in art and natural history. I figured that spending some time at the Abbe Museum would be a good way to get some more experience in those field as well as see how a museum operates and gain some insight into the museum world.

What did you do in your work on Twisted Path III?

A lot of different things! I painted walls, removed letters from the walls, cut mat boards, and other tasks to help prepare for the exhibit.

What did you find particularly interesting during your work on the exhibit?

Because I was not here every day, I got to really appreciate how much happened between the days I’d work. It amazed me how quickly the whole exhibit came together. I really appreciated seeing the process; so much work went into creating that exhibit and, at the same time, the work happened really quickly, I thought.

What would you say to anyone considering volunteering or interning at the Abbe?

Do it! Everyone here is so nice and it was a huge amount of fun.

What is your favorite aspect about the exhibit?

The day I came and all the pieces were on the walls and in the cases, I was so struck by how beautiful all the art is. And then I came back and the artist statements were on the wall and that made me appreciate the pieces all the more. I really like that combination of art and statement.

For more information about volunteer opportunities at the Abbe Museum, contact Curator of Education, Jennifer Pictou at jennifer@abbemuseum.org or call 207-288-3519.

Welcome Jennifer Pictou, New Curator of Education

The Abbe Museum welcomes Jennifer Pictou, Micmac, as the new Curator of Education. Ms. Pictou has a wealth of experience working in the museum field in general and the museum education field in particular. Over the past ten years, she worked as the Museum Educator for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Mashantucket, CT, as the Education Programs Supervisor at the Mystic Seaport Museum and, most recently, as the Executive Director at the Bangor Museum and History Center. Ms. Pictou currently serves as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, a position she will continue to hold as she starts work at the Abbe. Ms. Pictou holds a Bachelors in Fine Art from the University of Maine, a Bachelors of Art in Anthropology from the University of Southern Maine and a Masters in American and New England Studies, also from the University of Southern Maine.

Ms. Pictou stepped into the role of Museum Educator at the Abbe on January 13. “The Abbe is a leading educational voice about the Wabanaki in Maine and I am pleased to be welcomed into the organization,” says Ms. Pictou. “As both a museum professional and a member of the Arookstook Band of Micmacs, I look forward to expanding cultural connections for museum visitors as well as helping integrate more Native voices in public dialogue. In addition to bringing the energy and vibrancy of Maine’s Natives to visitors from around the globe, I am eager to engage museum learners in multi-sensory experiences that will highlight our deep connections to the land, culture, and people.”

Jennifer Pictou succeeds Raney Bench, who left the Abbe in early December to become the executive director of the Seal Cove Auto Museum.