Meet the Dreamstarter Creatives

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Carlon Ami (Navajo), Tsaile, Arizona

Carlon’s favorite medium is to work with silver and stone “primarily due to the cultural relevance of jewelry not only as a personal adornment, but from a spiritual perspective.”

His Dreamstarter Creative project will be a combined work of Navajo silverwork and traditional Western painting in order to demonstrate the complex relationships between artistic mediums as well as the strained relationship between what is considered “Fine Art” and “Utilitarian Art.”

” I intend to produce the silver belt, necklace, and bow guard worn by the kachina (an ancestral spirit of the Pueblo Inidans),” says Carlon. “’He Travels From Far Away’” depicts the Toneinelii kachina who is a side dancer for the Velvet Shirt kachinas. He is a Navajo deity who is represented in a Hopi ceremony. I have always been drawn to the complex multicultural origins of this particular kachina in part because of my own multicultural background of Navajo/Tewa/Hopi lineage.

“Working on my art stimulates not only my own memories of ceremony but serves as a catalyst for inter-generational conversations of teachings and values. I hope that viewing my work will encourage inter-generational conversations in both the Hopi and Navajo communities I call home. I want my grandchildren to see my work and remember our history, culture and values.”

Shayleena Britton (Round Valley Indian Tribes), Covelo, California

Shayleena has a bachelor’s degree in 3D animation, “but my favorite medium is acrylic paints.

“Painting has always been an escape for me whether I was bored or just needed a break from my studies. I always found painting as a way to keep me relaxed and calm. With painting and art itself, I love that you can always learn more. I have been painting for years yet I always find myself finding new techniques or improving.”

Shayleena notes that art is very important in her community, especially in her Native community. “Many people in my community are beaders, weavers or musicians. Art itself is very important because it helps bring out your own ideas and creativity. You get to put into your medium what you picture in your mind. Much like myself, many people in my community use art as a way to stay busy and escape the stresses of life.

Her Dreamstarter Creative project revolves around the importance of traditional foods. “I want to create acrylic paintings about important foods in my community. Living in a small town, hunting, fishing and growing vegetables is a big part of our survival. It is not only healthy, it is a way to connect with our ancestors and elders who passed down their knowledge to the next generation.”

Ann Chasing Hawk (Cheyenne River Sioux), Eagle Butte, South Dakota

2016 Running Strong for American Indian Youth® Dreamstarter Ann Chasing Hawk’s dream was to help Lakota youth learn about the art business in order to market and sell their own artwork.

Now, Ann, whose favorite medium is acrylic paint and watercolor, has been selected as a Dreamstarter Creative in order to share her art online for other people to see and appreciate its cultural relevance. “It’s how we share our stories.”

“I want to be able to upload my artwork on to the internet and sell my paintings,” says Ann.  “To do this, I need technology that currently isn’t available to me. With the $2,500 Dreamstarter Creative grant money I will purchase the technology that would help me achieve this goal.

“With my Dreamstarter grant I was able to help the youth in my community learn how to make and produce art and helped them learn about art marketing. With this grant I will continue to help them learn how to upload their artwork and help them sell their art online as a source of income.”

“I am fairly new at being an artist and there are still a lot of things I need to learn. With the help of this grant, I will be able to continue to grow as an artist and learn how to digitally create artwork on the computer. One day I hope to have an online business where my art is readily available for others to purchase.”

Alana Crutcher (Paiute /Shoshone), Elko, Nevada

Alana’s favorite medium is working with broad cloth and floral materials “bringing to light the feeling to embrace the quilts.

Her Dreamstarter Creative project is “to share my quilting skills and the significance to our younger generations, Sharing with them the stories behind the scared Moring Star and the meaning to our people. It is a part of the preservation of who we are as a people.

“I hope to reach youth in teaching them the basic knowledge of sewing, share the traditional stories behind the scared Morning Star, to be able to build stronger family ties, and getting families interested in a completed star quilt project they would be honored to have.

“I believe sharing the skill that was passed on to me by my grandmother is a priceless skill and the lessons that come with the stories behind the star quilt are also priceless. My community needs more family interaction, to see the completed projects of youth and family would be a great accomplishment.”

“My quilts that I share in many ways were taught to me by my grandmother. The stories told behind the Morning Star… the sacred colors of the evening sunsets. The symbol of honor recognition and the respect comes with the traditional Star quilt. The stories that are shared, and the tears that are cried and sewed.”

Camas Logue (Klamath Tribes), La Conner, Washington

Camas’ favorite medium is oil paint, saying, “I am most able to express the patterns and layers I find when observing the land through this medium.

For his Dreamstarter Creative project, “I will be addressing the preservation of Klamath Lake, a body of water that is critical to my tribe’s survival.

“Currently there are huge problems with the local agricultural/ranching industry that are creating conflicts between the tribe and local settlers. This projects focus is to create awareness of our endangered C’waam and Koptu fish and the dying Klamath Lake. Every year the lake is overtaken with toxic algae due to manipulated water levels and the effects of overgrazing and toxic runoff from dangerous agriculture practices. . I plan to make a series of large copper plate drypoint prints depicting the C’waam and Koptu fish. I will be using pigment ink made from the same toxic algae that is choking out the oxygen levels and killing the fish.

“Art and cultural practice go hand in hand. My community both on my reservation in Chiloquin as well as where I live on the Swinomish reservation, greatly value art as a cultural practice. Whether that be weaving, beading, or carving, these things are all important to the health and education of my communities. Being able to teach these things that I see firsthand and how it affects our youth by having new skills to learn and be proud of.”

Cynthia Masterson (Comanche), Seattle, Washington

Cynthia’s favorite medium is “BEADS! The colors are astounding and so beautiful. But they also hold history, stories, and lessons. Beads help me connect with people to share this knowledge. My mind’s eye sees the world in beads. If it’s round, I want to bead it. If it’s empty, I want to fill it with beads. I get lost gazing at all the colors to select just the perfect ones. I want them in and on everything to share ideas and stories.”

“Beads heal and change lives. Creating art with beads is such a personal experience unique to everyone. I’ve seen it help grieving people heal. I’ve found joy in seeing youth participate in our gifting economy with their new beading skills. Relatives have kept the lights on with money earned from selling beadwork. None of this is possible without the knowledge of beading.”

Cynthia will be using her $2,500 Dreamstarter Creative grant to teach youth how to bead and create a beaded baton for use in a relay race, which they will also create and organize.

“The Dreamstarter Creative grant will encourage these transformations in my community. Connecting youth with their Native traditions through beading brings me such joy. The Dreamstarter grant encourages youth to develop life skills and engage in sports. I hope this grant ignites thoughts and actions to set youth on a good path. I also want this project to help us stay connected with each other.”

Ann Miller-Larson (Oneida and Ojibwe), Green Bay, Wisconsin

Ann’s favorite medium is beads. “I find a great deal of joy creating original designs with beadwork. As an Ojibwe and Oneida person, beadwork has long been an important means of expressing creativity, but for myself personally, it was not a skill I was able to learn from my own family.

“Many of my family’s cultural and artistic traditions were lost or kept from us. As a result, I had to teach myself how to bead and how to create in that medium. It has been a difficult but rewarding process. That struggle and reclamation of lost knowledge is why beading is my favorite medium to work with. That is also why beading will be the medium I would use for this project.”

Her Dreamstarter Creative project is to create up to five large beaded pieces (roughly 8”x10”) that address the importance of traditional food and food sovereignty. These pieces will depict foods such as wild rice and maple syrup, that are deeply ingrained in both Ojibwe and Oneida cultural traditions. These pieces will be accompanied by a short written narrative describing the foods depicted, their cultural significance, and how Ojibwe and Oneida people are working to preserve traditional, sustainable food systems.

“Art has always been a part of my life and a part of the way that my people express themselves. We have always used art to express ideas, pass on stories, and reflect our connection to the world around us. More recently, art has allowed my community and myself to address important topics in an artistic way.”

Chloe Schierbeck (Hunkpapha Lakhota – Standing Rock Sioux), Burien, Washington

Chloe’s favorite medium is textiles saying, “I’ve mostly worked with cotton fabric but for this project I will use jacquard and more high-end fabrics. My idea is to complete a set of ribbon skirts, one for each of the seven directions. I’ve already done East and West and above. I want to do North, South, Earth and around. Each skirt will tell a story of its direction.

In any community art is creative expression. It’s a visual representation of what we sometimes struggle to verbalize. In Native communities, art is also part of who we are. We walk in beauty, čhaŋkú lúta ogná maúŋnipi. Art connects us to our ancestors and carries on our traditions.

“This $2,500 Dreamstarter grant and project will have a very positive impact. Community-wise it will inspire and create pride and personal wise it will allow me growth and confidence as an artist. This will give me the skills I need to read and create patterns, take measurements, and create more complex garments and projects.

“I am passionate about creating beauty and stories through sewing. I want to incorporate traditional sewing and clothing into modern wear. I want to replicate traditional regalia and clothing as well.”

Brooke Waldron (Seaconke Wampanoag Tribe), Hopkinton, Rhode Island

Brooke loves all mediums of art, but “I have always been drawn to pottery. I signed up for a pottery class during the pandemic when activities started opening and quickly became immersed in ceramics and feel a cultural connection when creating pieces that inspire me.

As an Eastern tribe, our history and traditions have been fiercely protected as we endured the consequences of colonialism 200 years earlier than westward expansion. This resulted in loosing much of our language and culture to the miscegenation and exploitation of our indigenous homelands.

“As such, the arts are a critical connection for our tribal communities to develop and relearn our traditional practices. It is through art that we can fully reclaim our identity and unique characteristics of Northeastern Native people. It is my intention to introduce the revitalization of Northeastern Woodland pottery.

My project idea is to research, develop and create a body of work that reproduces the indigenous pottery of the Woodland Northeast. The pieces will be a collection of traditional hand-built wood-fired vessels that would have been carried on our women’s backs.

“I hope to blend these pieces into a showcase to exhibit at a local organization. The exhibit will enable the public at large to examine the historical impact and importance of protecting and valuing the future of Native arts and artists into the 21st century. The future and culture of Native American communities intersects with our future generation and traditional knowledge.”

Lola Wippert (Blackfeet Nation), Browning, Montana

Lola’s favorite medium is working with textiles in making ribbon skirt artwork. “I love to design and put native art on fabrics or use native design fabrics. Expressing our Blackfeet artwork in wearable form reminds me of our painted tipis that show our culture, our art history and what we stand for in contemporary times (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, honor our children, etc.).”

Her Dreamstarter Creative project includes making ribbon skirt and ribbon T-shirt kits for girls and boys in her local Headstart program. “These kits will have everything a person needs to make their child a ribbon skirt or ribbon shirt in the artistic manner they want.  Our culture preservation starts with our youth, instilling pride in them when they are able to participate in their Headstart pow-wow wearing their own ribbon skirt or ribbon shirt will make them proud to be Blackfeet.

“I have seen many Headstart youth who never had the opportunity to wear any sort of regalia during their pow-wow because parents can’t afford even a skirt or a shirt.

“Art is very important in Blackfeet country. Our ancestors expressed themselves through art on our tipis, buffalo robes, rock walls and what we wore. We have many talented artists in all mediums on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. It is a form of communication, depicts our history and contemporary history to our community.

 

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