Greetings! I’ve been working this year, but I haven’t kept up with my blog entries about the wonderful students I’ve been fortunate to meet and interesting work I’ve had the pleasure of doing this past circle of seasons. So here is a little pictorial of last May at IslandWood, during my 16th Artist Residency there. I spend two weeks each year working with 8 small groups of 4th-6th graders, and two sessions with graduate students and docent volunteers.
This year I brought in fresh twigs from Forsythia, Thimbleberry, Willow, Osier Dogwood, with quick change drill bits & pruners. Students learn how to make “Nature Beads” to embellish their Cedar Necklaces.
Here are my visual props for our Cedar Bark Necklace Pouch Project, and examples of different types of basketry and materials.
Here is the beautiful space we get to work in at the Art Studio at IslandWood. I like to set the table “Family-style”. The plant identification posters that are displayed in the background are just 24 examples of native plants once used by the Salish Peoples of the Pacific Northwest to make all things necessary for daily living, and currently used today as library of living cultural knowledge. These ID posters were made with love by Jennifer Dixon and the late Linda Strickler. After 17 years of use, they will now live in the Fiber Art Studio at BARN for use by the Basketry instructors there.
The tables set up outside for the really messy stuff. Note, the branches that have been pealed already are some of the fresh cedar limbs that I brought in for students to experience pealing the bark from. There is a lot of prep-work involved. My dear husband kindly cut the 2”-3” diameter limbs needed for the 90-100 students, each week, into 24” lengths, just before I came to IslandWood. 60 pieces for the two weeks. Once harvested, I needed to keep the sections immersed in water.
This year, it was a great pleasure to work with Kah-Ty-Ah Lawrence Moran, her mom, Barbara Lawrence, and to have in our presence, little Verite, only 6 weeks old. Three generations of Suquamish women to share this Artist Residency experience with. Kah-Ty-Ah, being such a new mom, with the help of her mom, Verite’s Kayah, or grandmother, brought her fresh teaching approach and cultural lessons directly to the students as we taught about the life-cycle of the Cedar tree, whose bark we were using.
The students were proud of their accomplishments, from thanking the Cedar for sharing it’s layers of inner and outer bark, to pulling the bark off the limbs, dividing it into layers, and then learning the techniques of weaving and finishing their pouches.
Verite’s Kaya, or Grandmother, is Barbara Lawrence, Suquamish Elder and Cultural Teacher. I’ve learned so much from Barbara, and I am grateful for her generosity for coming to care for Verite so that Kah-Ty-Ah could be freed up to share this Artist Residency with me for these two weeks. I think having the three generations of Suquamish women present enhanced the students’ understanding of the ancient and present cultural story of place. IslandWood is built upon Suquamish territory, and knowledge of how to use plant fibers, like weaving with the inner bark of Western Red Cedar, comes from the Salish Cultures who have preserved and passed on this knowledge from generation to generation since time immemorial til today. Barbara is a Master Storyteller, and one evening in the Great Hall at IslandWood, she shared a Suquamish Creation story with all the students. It as magical. Thank you Barbara for sharing your gifts.
That’s all I have time to share now. But I’ll be back soon to continue with week 2 at IslandWood last spring.