My dress SacRED Threads is back home with me for a few weeks.
I made this dress just over a year ago and it has been in Minnesota, USA for most of 2019 in Bring Her Home: Stolen Daughters of Turtle Island. This was a suite of exhibitions featuring works from emerging to established Indigenous artists highlighting the ongoing epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
“In light of the local movement to stop sexual exploitation and
the international #MMIW awareness campaign, Bring Her Home
shares visual stories of the impacted women and
families affected who resonate the plea,
“We just want to know where she is. We just want to bring her home.”
From my Artist’s Statement:
This piece reflects the cultural crossover between Native American communities by using imagery and iconic styles to create a synthesis from different Indigenous influences.
Although the dress style is representative of a collective Plains identity, the bodice and sleeves contain imagery that is meaningful to both Plains people and to my Mvskoke ancestors. The representation of the Path of Souls and the Great Hand on the right hand sleeve are where our Ancestors dwell.
The pattern of the stars across the bodice echoes the elk tooth pattern in many Plains dresses and extends into a freer Milky Way pattern across the sleeves.
The four-square beads at the neck and at the bottom of the dress represent the Mvskoke concept of Harmony/Balance.
The red in the throat triangle is an aesthetic choice and a personal symbol of me finding my voice, both as an artist and a Mvskoke woman.
It is through our bloodline that we discover, claim and reaffirm our Native identity. The photographs at the bottom of the dress were chosen to represent all Native women. These women embody the strength and endurance of Indigenous women and the resilience of our Ancestors.
The piece recognizes a darker side of shared Native American experience: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
The figures on the belt drop are witness to over five hundred years of violence and murder perpetrated against Indigenous North American women, the red hand painted over the mouth being used to reference this issue today: hidden but not silenced.
As well as acknowledging the bloodline and ongoing resilience of Native women, SacRED Threads reminds us that the targeting of Indigenous women has been ongoing throughout the period of Settler Colonization.
From 1st May 2020 SacRED Threads will be shown at Museum Volkenkunde, in Leiden, in the Netherlands. Their exhibition – First Americans: Honouring indigenous Resilience and Creativity – marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from that city.
The exhibition will form a major part of Leiden 400, Leiden’s commemoration of the sailing, and its impact on indigenous peoples.
It represents the themes of contrasting histories, resilience, community and the future, with an emphasis on indigenous self-representation.
How different to the celebratory tone that marks Plymouth 400.