Up close with our ancestor's work, Michelle Defoe visits the Historical Archives

Sarah Howes

Posted on November 03 2018

Visiting the Minnesota Historical Society is an important piece to this makizinikewin project.  It helped me to see up close the various styles and designs of how our elders made makizinan before us.  I am a young learner and I'm grateful for each experience that allows me to learn more.  I was in awe of the beauty and mastery or each artist's design.  It reminded me that I still have a lot to learn to get to that level of sewing and beadwork.  I was very inspired and moved by looking at each piece.  
One thing in particular that was inspiring to me was the artist's ability to improvise with materials, fixing mistakes and altering patterns. Some of the makizinan had horse hair woven into the seams to hide the stitches.  Others had yarn or small pieces of leather.  Some of them were well worn and needed patches so they just sewed up the holes with more leather. Some had very unique decorative aspects to them. There was not one piece that was exactly like another. With each piece I felt like I learned something new.  This also helped me see that as an artist it's okay to have your own unique style and still honor the original designs that our elders used. 
I believe this trip was a great way to get inspired and motivated for this project. As I work on this project I will think of how we are helping to keep these traditional arts alive. I will think of the artists and the pieces i was able to see and touch.  The image of those pieces are still in my mind and the feeling that I felt in the room as we examined them.  That feeling of awe and humility.  I will bring that with me as I continue to work on this project.  
Michelle Defoe, Nookomis Obagijigan Apprentice

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