“I will create work that speaks to our need for the water and our responsibility to it.”
As a child, I loved beadwork. Seeing my aunties and kokums fine-craft work instilled in me, at a young age, a powerful sense of its the value and importance of doing it well. I was, without conscious effort, absorbing skill, technique and design using patterns and motifs. This combination of learning and lasting admiration has motivated the development of my own practice. I hand sew everything and use whatever I can find.
My practice is not simply objects, but how those objects reflect and participate in my community; how they draw from and develop cultural traditions; how they keep those traditions alive through their use. I find beadwork intriguing because it is a form of expression that is culturally rich and at the same time personal and specific.
For me, beading is fundamentally about sharing with community and making things of value. Some of the beaded objects I create are moccasins, tikinagans, gauntlets, otter bags. I also love to harvest materials such as: porcupine quills, birch bark, pine needles. Gathering is very important for me. From experience, making objects and the materials used gives meaning to my life by giving satisfaction to define self in relation to community.
I have a hunger to create work that has a story to tell. The body of work that I aspire to do will surround itself around language and water. Exploring the five Great Lakes referred to as the Sacred Waters: Niigani, Waabishkiigoo, Ininwewi, Naadawewi, Anishinaabewi Gichi Gami. I will create work that speaks to our need for the water and our responsibility to it.
Jean Marshall is a fine craft artist from Fort William First Nation, Ontario.