I am a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians in Michigan. I come from an unbroken line of Black ash basket weavers that goes back for centuries. I also work with Basswood, Birch Bark, and Cattails; and am also a painter, photographer, and create documentaries. I harvest and prepare these materials creating traditional and contemporary basketry and weavings.
I am a mother to a weaver and I am a full time artist and activist, working on preserving the knowledge of Black Ash Basketry, and saving seeds to sustain these traditions for years to come. I have worked with Tribal Foresters, the USDA, and the Nature Conservancy on issues related to invasive pests. I do teachings and demonstrations throughout the US and Canada to tribal groups, schools, universities, libraries, and government agencies.
I graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM with my AFA in Fine Art and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with my BFA in Fine Art. I was a recipient of the Martin Luther King Spirit Award from the U of M for my work with Native communities.
I participate in juried art shows around the US and worked as Artist-In-Residence at the Eiteljorg Museum in 2010. I represented the Great Lakes area for Black Ash basketry at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2006, and have been a Fellowship recipient of the National Museum of the American Indian Artist Leadership Program in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010. In 2006 and 2008 I held 2 National Conferences addressing the “Effects of the Emerald Ash Borer on Black Ash Basketry in Native Communities.” I held another in April 2011 bringing together all Nations from the Eastern US and Canada to have a conversation about the future of Black Ash basketry.
I value my daughter and family, my community, our forests and the knowledge that has been passed on to me to pass onto future generations. I am grateful and honored to be a part of all of these aspects of my life and hope the work we all do together will make a difference for the generation of tomorrow.
Link to Kelly: