RS -- DSC Brooke Waldron throwing a small vessel on pottery wheel throwingonwheel-min

Brooke Waldron: Helping to Preserve the Future with Native Pottery

Running Strong for American Indian Youth® Dreamstarter Creative Brooke Waldron Waldron (Seaconke Wampanoag Tribe) of Hopkinton, Rhode Island, dream project was titled “Traditional Creation, the Preservation of the Future: A Historical design of Contemporary Woodland Native Pottery.”

“My project was to research, develop and create a body of work that reproduces both traditional and contemporary Woodland Northeast pottery,” she reported. “This included firing different clay bodies in three different methods: Pit-Fire, Woodfire and Electric Fire.”

Brooke used her $2,500 Dreamstarter Creative grant to purchase a few hundred pounds of clay, a pottery wheel, and various tools and equipment needed to make and utilize both functional and decorative Native ceramics. The two largest expenditures were the clay itself plus shipping from Massachusetts and her pottery wheel.

“The project assisted financially to help me create over a dozen pieces of pottery and enabled me to work with multiple different mineral-based clay bodies,” she reported. “I was also able to participate in different firing techniques that expanded both the traditional authenticity of my work, but my knowledge as well.”

As with any traditional art, Brooke said the largest challenge is the lack of guidance.

“Revitalizing artforms and finding audience and marketability will always be an active pursuit,” she told us. “However, with the use of research technology, community elders and libraries, these knowledge gaps can be overcome, and I was able to easily stay committed to my pieces.”

Brooke said the long-term impact is the introduction to many forms of Native ceramic techniques into her area and the Dreamstarter Creative funds assisting her in the development of her studio.

“I have promoted my work on my social media accounts, sold some pieces and continue to have meaningful conversations in my area about contemporary Native artists,” she reported. “These are efforts I started many years before, but through this small project was able to also highlight continued efforts and funding efforts.

“My tribe does not have any active potters, so I am able to fill that role and be a resource for individuals who are interested in learning more.”

Brooke had told us in her Dreamstarter Creative application that while she loves all mediums of artwork, but had always been drawn to pottery. When she signed up for a pottery class during the pandemic as activities were resuming “and became immersed in ceramics and feel a cultural connection when creating pieces that inspire me.”

Following the conclusion of the grant period, Brooke wanted the supporters of Running Strong to know:

“I am thrilled with my project; in my opinion every portion of the process was successful in the revitalization efforts I made.

“Success is an objective term, and since this is an ongoing artform for me, the grant period of one year outlined the success of assisting in providing me the groundwork equipment I needed to begin my long-term relationship and development of Native ceramics as a craft.”

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