I have been an artist my entire life. Even at a young age, I was intrigued by Native art in particular. Being Penobscot, I had seen baskets in museums and in the homes of my family members and was always fascinated by them. I was also told stories about my great-grandmother who was a basketmaker in the early 1900s. I wanted to be a part of this tradition, but unfortunately, in my family, it was not passed down to my generation. I still found ways to practice art, and in high school I began painting and experimenting with various mediums. I found it was a great outlet for my artistic abilities.
In 2004, I apprenticed with Jennifer Neptune as part of the Maine Arts Commission Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. I was honored to have the opportunity to work with a skilled masterweaver, such as Jennifer. She showed me first how to split the ash splints, how to prepare my material, and taught me the traditional techniques necessary to weave ash and sweetgrass baskets. Since then, I have sharpened my skills with each basket woven.
Although I am using traditional material and techniques, my style comes from the place I live today, in this modern society. Basketry, to me, is a fine Art and in order for the tradition to survive, it must evolve. It is important for my work to appeal to a modern audience, while still remaining true to cultural traditions. When creating art, whether it be painting, drawing, basketry, or any medium, my top priority is always quality and attention to detail. I take pride in every project I set out to do, and I am constantly striving to be better at what I do. When I can create something that surpasses my initial vision, it gives me a real sense of accomplishment.
As for my inspiration, I look to the past, present and future. I see it as being vitally important to acknowledge the traditions of the past. I have a responsibility to honor my ancestors that have practiced the art of basketry long before I was alive. It gives me great pride knowing that I am able to perform this tradition in almost every way it was done years ago. To create a work of art out of a raw material such as the ash tree is almost magical. When I look at some of my creations, even I sometimes wonder how they came to be. As I weave, it is almost like having a spiritual connection with the past.
Living in this present day, my goal is to embrace the modern world and combine natural elements with bright innovative colors along with original designs to create a fresh approach to a timeless art form.
Not only do I aspire to create things that are visually appealing and a reflection of myself, but I also strive to preserve Wabanaki basketry to ensure that it is not lost or forgotten. I see it as part of my duty, since obtaining this knowledge, to pass it on. It is personally important to me, not just as an artist, but also as a Native American to create art that will inspire future generations, and keep the tradition of Basketry alive.