Daphne Odjig, was a Canadian First Nations artist of Odawa-Potawatomi-English heritage. Her painting is characterized as Woodlands Style, she was the driving force behind the Professional Native Indian Artists Association, colloquially known as the Indian Group of Seven, a group considered a pioneer in bringing First Nations art to the forefront of Canada's art world. She received a number of awards for her work, including the Order of Canada, the Governor General's Award and five honorary doctorates. Odjig was born in 1919 at Wiikwemkoong, the principal village on the Manitoulin Island Unceded Indian Reserve, to parents Dominic and Joyce Odjig, she was the eldest of four children. She was descended on her father's side from the great Potawatomi Chief Black Partridge, her mother, an Englishwoman and married Dominic in England where he was serving during World War I. When Odjig was 13 years old, she had to leave school. Recuperating at home, she spent time with her paternal grandfather, Jonas Odjig, her parents - all of whom encouraged her to explore art.
Odjig said that her grandfather "played a great role in my life – he nurtured my creative spirit – he was the first one I drew with...he was my first mentor." Odjig was influenced by her mother who embroidered and her father who liked to draw war scenes and his officers from his wartime experiences. Odjig once stated that "Art was always a part of our lives"; when she was 18, Odjig's mother and grandfather died. Odjig moved to Parry Sound, at the outbreak of World War II, she moved to Toronto for job opportunities, she worked in factories and in her spare time explored art galleries such as the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. She was influenced by her first experiences of cubist art by artists such as Picasso. In 1945, after World War II, Odjig moved to British Columbia. In the 1960s she relocated to Manitoba, her breakthrough into the art world happened in the early 1960s when she received critical acclaim for her pen and ink drawings of Cree people from northern Manitoba and their traditional community.
She was concerned over the potential loss of traditional ways of living, hoped that by preserving images of the people and their daily life in art, they could survive. In 1963 she was formally recognized as an artist when she was admitted to the British Columbia Federation of Artists. In 1971, she opened Odjig Indian Prints of a craft shop and small press, in Winnipeg. In 1973, Odjig founded the Professional Native Indian Artists Association, along with Alex Janvier and Norval Morrisseau; the group organised shows of their work and, although the group was short-lived, the members are considered critical pioneers in the development of indigenous art in Canada. About the group, Odjig once said, "We acknowledged and supported each other as artists when the world of fine art refused us entry…Together we broke down barriers that would have been so much more difficult faced alone." It had an immediate result of bringing First Nations art to the wider Canadian art scene – in 1972, the Winnipeg Art Gallery offered three of the artists exhibiting there a show.
By 1974, she and her husband had renamed it New Warehouse Gallery. It was the first Canadian gallery representing First Nations art and Canada's first Native-owned and operated art gallery. In 1973, Odjig received a Brucebo Foundation Scholarship and spent six months on the island of Gotland, Sweden, as a resident artist. Odjig's early works were realistic in their style, however she began to experiment with other styles such as expressionism and cubism, she developed a style of her own which fused together elements of aboriginal pictographs and First Nations arts with European techniques and styles of the 20th century. According to the National Gallery of Canada, "Odjig's work is defined by curving contours, strong outlining, overlapping shapes and an unsurpassed sense of color". In the 1960s Odjig began to paint scenes from Manitoulin legends, in the 1970s she focused further on her Indian heritage and culture, the impact of colonialism on her people. Among other subjects, she explored mythology and landscapes.
She explored erotic themes in some of her paintings. Other topics she dealt with included human suffering, relationships and the importance of family and kinship, her work is included in such public collections as Canada Council's Art Bank, the National Museum of Man in Ottawa, the Tom Thompson Gallery, the McMichael Canadian Collection, the Sequoyah Research Center and the Government of Israel. She was commissioned to create art by Expo'70 in Osaka, the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature, for El Al, the Israeli airline. Odjig has been the subject of at least three documentaries, she was the recipient of a wide range of honors, including an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Laurentian University in 1982, an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Toronto in 1985, the Order of Canada in 1986, a Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada in 1992, an Honorary Doctorate of Education from Nipissing University in 1997, a National Aboriginal Achievement Awards in 1998.
She was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Art in 1989. In 2007, Odjig received the Governor General's Award in Media Arts. Canada Post featured three of her paintings on Canadian postage stamps in February 2011. In 2007, she was made a Member of the Order of British Colu
Beaver Hall Group
The Beaver Hall Group refers to a Montreal-based group of Canadian painters who met in the late 1910s while studying art at a school run by the Art Association of Montreal. The Group is notable for its equal inclusion of men and women artists, as well as for its embrace of Jazz Age modernism, they painted a variety of subjects, including portraits, urban scenes and still lifes, in a mix of Modernist and traditional styles. The ten female artists who are together known as the Beaver Hall Group were: Nora Collyer Emily Coonan Prudence Heward Mabel Lockerby Mabel May Kathleen Morris Lilias Torrance Newton Sarah Robertson Anne Savage Ethel SeathAll ten of the group's participants had studied under William Brymner, a prominent Canadian artist who encouraged them to explore new modernistic approaches to painting. In an era when women artists were viewed as little more than hobbyists and were left out of the mainstream world of professional art, the Beaver Hall Group was the first Canadian artists association in which women played a central role.
The group was formally founded in May 1920, inaugurated through the efforts of Randolph Stanley Hewton, Edwin Holgate, Mabel May and Lilias Torrance Newton. The group's name derives from 305 Beaver Hall Hill, the location of the downtown Montreal studio where its members shared space, it counted among the founding members eleven eight women. In addition to Hewton, Holgate and Newton, original members included Mabel Lockerby, Anne Savage, President of the group, A. Y. Jackson; the first Beaver Hall exhibition took place January 17, 1921. In his opening speech, Jackson emphasized the right of the artist to paint what they feel "with utter disregard for what has hitherto been considered requisite to the acceptance of the work at the recognized art exhibitions in Canadian centres.'Schools' and'isms' do not trouble us," Jackson stressed, "individual expression is our chief concern". He identified its goals as being those of the Group of Seven, over the years Jackson maintained the contact between Toronto and Montreal and stimulating the Montreal artists through regular visits and correspondence.
He kept them informed of events in Toronto and arranged for their works to be included in the Group of Seven exhibitions. Both the Montreal Gazette and La Presse gave generous coverage to the vernissage; the association only survived for two years, during which time they held only four exhibitions with many different artists exhibiting among them. In 1924, the Beaver Hall Group gave up their rented studio but maintained their working studios at home. Many of the women from the Beaver Hall Group exhibited with the all-male Group of Seven internationally; when the Group of Seven formally disbanded in 1932, the women of the Beaver Hall Group helped establish the Canadian Group of Painters in 1933, to provide exhibition opportunities. Group artists maintained an information association into the early 1960s; the current understanding of the Beaver Hall Group as a group of Montreal-based women painters can be traced back to Nora McCullough's 1966 traveling exhibition "The Beaver Hall Hill Group". Until that time, the ten women who had continued their informal network after the disbanding of the formal Beaver Hall Group had not had a name for their association.
McCollough's aim was to expose the talent of Quebec's women artists to western Canada. Anne Savage and A. Y. Jackson had told her about the original Beaver Hall Group and the name of the group became somehow confused with the name of the street, how the exhibition got its name. More curators have discovered a new dimension of Canadian modernism in the Beaver Hall Group. In contrast to the familiar modernist icons of the Toronto-based Group of Seven, the Montreal Beaver Hall painters were occupied with distinctly urban subjects: industry and city life. Commenting on a recent exhibition, 1920s Modernism in Montreal: The Beaver Hall Group at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, co-curator Brian Foss said, "As fascinating and important as the Group of Seven was, it wasn't the only word on Canadian Modernism. Visitors will be struck by the extraordinary vibrancy and sheer quality of the art, will come away with enhanced admiration for the real contributions Montreal artists made to Modernist art in this country."
Des Rochers and Brian Foss. The Beaver Hall Group: 1920s Modernism in Montreal. Black Dog Publishing. ISBN 978-1-908966-93-3 Meadowcroft, Barbara. Painting friends: the Beaver Hall women painters. Véhicule Press. ISBN 1-55065-125-0 Prakash, A. K.. Independent Spirit: Early Canadian Women Artists. Firefly Books. ISBN 1554074177 Walters, Evelyn; the Beaver Hall Group and Its Legacy, Dundurn Press, ISBN 9781459737761 Walters, The women of Beaver Hall: Canadian modernist painters, Dundurn Press, ISBN 1-55002-588-0 Pepita Ferrari. By Woman's Hand, produced by the National Film Board of Canada; this documentary chronicles the Beaver Hall Hill Group, featuring Prudence Heward, Sarah Robertson and Anne Savage. The Beaver Hall Exhibition. Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Exhibition website
Formline art is a feature in the indigenous art of the Northwest Coast of North America, distinguished by the use of characteristic shapes referred to as ovoids, U forms and S forms. Coined by Bill Holm in his 1965 book Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form, the "formline is the primary design element on which Northwest Coast art depends, by the turn of the 20th century, its use spread to the southern regions as well, it is the positive delineating force of the painting and engraving. Formlines are continuous, curvilinear lines that turn and diminish in a prescribed manner, they are used for figure outlines, internal design elements and in abstract compositions." After European contact, in the late 18th century, the peoples who produced Northwest Coast art suffered huge population losses due to diseases such as smallpox, cultural losses due to assimilation into European-North American culture. The production of their art dropped drastically as well. Toward the end of the 19th century, Northwest Coast artists began producing work for commercial sale, such as small argillite carvings.
The end of the 19th century saw large-scale export of totem poles and other traditional art objects from the region to museums and private collectors around the world. Some of this export was accompanied by financial compensation to people who had a right to sell the art, some was not. In the early 20th century few First Nations artists in the Northwest Coast region were producing art. A tenuous link to older traditions remained in artists such as Charles Gladstone, Stanley George and Mungo Martin; the mid-20th century saw a revival of interest and production of Northwest Coast art, due to the influence of artists and critics such as Bill Reid, a grandson of Charles Gladstone, others. This renewal of art is part of a wider political awakening among First Nations, it saw an increasing demand for the return of art objects that were illegally or immorally taken from First Nations communities. This demand continues to the present day. Today, there are numerous art schools teaching formal Northwest Coast art of various styles, there is a growing market for new art in this style.
Northwest Coast art Hawthorn, Audrey. Art of the Kwakiutl Indians. Vancouver: University of British Columbia, 1967. Holm, Bill. Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form. University of Washington Press: Seattle, 1965. ISBN 978-0-295-95102-7 McLennan and Karen Duffek. "The Transforming Image: Painted Arts of Northwest Coast First Nations." University of British Columbia. 2000. ISBN 0-7748-0427-0 Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art at the Burke Museum Reciprocal Research Network
Norval Morrisseau, CM known as Copper Thunderbird, was an Indigenous Canadian artist from the Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation. Known as the "Picasso of the North", Morrisseau created works depicting the legends of his people, the cultural and political tensions between native Canadian and European traditions, his existential struggles, his deep spirituality and mysticism, his style is characterized by bright colors. He founded the Woodlands School of Canadian art and was a prominent member of the “Indian Group of Seven”. An Anishinaabe, he was born March 1931 on the Sand Point Ojibwe reserve near Beardmore, Ontario; some sources quote him as saying that he was born in Fort William, now part of Thunder Bay, Ontario, on the same date in 1931. His full name is Jean-Baptiste Norman Henry Morrisseau, but he signs his work using the Cree syllabics writing ᐅᓵᐚᐱᐦᑯᐱᓀᐦᓯ, as his pen-name for his Anishnaabe name ᒥᐢᒁᐱᐦᐠ ᐊᓂᒥᐦᑮ. In accordance with Anishnaabe tradition, he was raised by his maternal grandparents.
His grandfather, Moses Potan Nanakonagos, a shaman, taught him the traditions and legends of his people. His grandmother, Grace Theresa Potan Nanakonagos, was a devout Catholic and from her he learned the tenets of Christianity; the contrast between these two religious traditions became an important factor in his intellectual and artistic development. At the age of six, he was sent to a Catholic residential school, where students were educated in the European tradition, native culture was repressed, the use of native language was forbidden. After two years he started attending a local community school. At the age of 19, he became sick, he was taken to a doctor but his health kept deteriorating. Fearing for his life, his mother called a medicine-woman who performed a renaming ceremony: She gave him the new name Copper Thunderbird. According to Anishnaabe tradition, giving a powerful name to a dying person can give them new energy and save their lives. Morrisseau recovered after the ceremony and from on always signed his works with his new name.
Morrisseau was sent to Fort William Sanatorium to recover. There he met his future wife Harriet Kakegamic with whom he had seven children, Michael, David, Lisa and Christian. After being invited by Ontario Provincial Police Constable, Robert Sheppard, to meet the artist, the anthropologist Selwyn Dewdney, became an early advocate of Morrisseau's and was interested in Morrisseau's deep knowledge of native culture and myth. Dewdney was the first to take his art to a wider public. Jack Pollock, a Toronto art dealer, helped expose Morrisseau's art to a wider audience in the 1960s; the two met in 1962 while Pollock was teaching a painting workshop in Beardmore. As Pollock did not drive, Susan Ross whom Morrisseau had met in 1961 and Sheila Burnford drove Pollock to visit Morrisseau at his home to view more of his works. Struck by the genius of Morrisseau's art, he organized an exhibition of his work at his Toronto gallery. One of Morrisseau's early commissions was for a large mural in the Indians of Canada Pavilion at Expo 67, a revolutionary exhibit voicing the dissatisfaction of the First Nations People of Canada with their social and political situation.
In 1972, he was caught in a hotel fire in Vancouver and suffered serious burns on three-quarters of his body. On that occasion, he had a vision of Jesus encouraging him to be a role model through his art, he started introducing Christian themes in his art. A year he was arrested for drunk and disorderly behaviour and was incarcerated for his own protection, he was allowed to attend a nearby church. Norval is the founder of a Canadian-originated school of art called Woodland or sometimes Legend or Medicine painting, his work is influential on a group of younger Ojibwe and Cree artists, such as Blake Debassige, Benjamin Chee Chee, Leland Bell. His influence on the Woodland school of artists was recognized in 1984 by the Art Gallery of Ontario exhibit Norval Morrisseau and the Emergence of the Image Makers, he spent his youth in remote isolation in northern Ontario, near Thunder Bay, where his artistic style developed without the usual influences of other artist's imagery. As the sole originator of his "Woodland" style he has become an inspiration to three generations of artists.
In 1978, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts; as Morrisseau's health began to decline as a result of Parkinson's disease and a stroke in 1994, he was cared for by his adopted family Gabe and Michelle Vadas. In 2005 and 2006, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa organized a retrospective of his work; this was the first time. In the final months of his life, the artist used a wheelchair and lived in a residence in Nanaimo, British Columbia, he was unable to paint due to his poor health. He died of cardiac arrest—complications arising from Parkinson's disease on December 4, 2007 in Toronto General Hospital, he was buried after a private ceremony in Northern Ontario next to the grave of his former wife, Harriet, on Anishinaabe land. He would draw on the sandy beaches of Lake Nipigon with a stick and let the waves take the images away, he was told by some. The National Arts Centre, urban ink co-production, Copper Thunderbird, premiered on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network on Monday, February 4, 2008.
The Great Lakes called the Laurentian Great Lakes and the Great Lakes of North America, are a series of interconnected freshwater lakes in the upper mid-east region of North America, on the Canada–United States border, which connect to the Atlantic Ocean through the Saint Lawrence River. They consist of Lakes Superior, Huron and Ontario, although hydrologically, there are four lakes, Erie and Michigan-Huron; the connected lakes form the Great Lakes Waterway. The Great Lakes are the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total area, second-largest by total volume, containing 21% of the world's surface fresh water by volume; the total surface is 94,250 square miles, the total volume is 5,439 cubic miles less than the volume of Lake Baikal. Due to their sea-like characteristics the five Great Lakes have long been referred to as inland seas. Lake Superior is the second largest lake in the world by area, the largest freshwater lake by area. Lake Michigan is the largest lake, within one country.
The Great Lakes began to form at the end of the last glacial period around 14,000 years ago, as retreating ice sheets exposed the basins they had carved into the land which filled with meltwater. The lakes have been a major source for transportation, migration and fishing, serving as a habitat to a large number of aquatic species in a region with much biodiversity; the surrounding region is called the Great Lakes region. Though the five lakes lie in separate basins, they form a single interconnected body of fresh water, within the Great Lakes Basin, they form a chain connecting the east-central interior of North America to the Atlantic Ocean. From the interior to the outlet at the Saint Lawrence River, water flows from Superior to Huron and Michigan, southward to Erie, northward to Lake Ontario; the lakes drain a large watershed via many rivers, are studded with 35,000 islands. There are several thousand smaller lakes called "inland lakes," within the basin; the surface area of the five primary lakes combined is equal to the size of the United Kingdom, while the surface area of the entire basin is about the size of the UK and France combined.
Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes, within the United States. The lakes are divided among the jurisdictions of the Canadian province of Ontario and the U. S. states of Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio and New York. Both Ontario and Michigan include in their boundaries portions of four of the lakes: Ontario does not border Lake Michigan, Michigan does not border Lake Ontario. New York and Wisconsin's jurisdictions extend into two lakes, each of the remaining states into one of the lakes; as the surfaces of Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie are all the same elevation above sea level, while Lake Ontario is lower, because the Niagara Escarpment precludes all natural navigation, the four upper lakes are called the "upper great lakes". This designation, however, is not universal; those living on the shore of Lake Superior refer to all the other lakes as "the lower lakes", because they are farther south. Sailors of bulk freighters transferring cargoes from Lake Superior and northern Lake Michigan and Lake Huron to ports on Lake Erie or Ontario refer to the latter as the lower lakes and Lakes Michigan and Superior as the upper lakes.
This corresponds to thinking of Lakes Erie and Ontario as "down south" and the others as "up north". Vessels sailing north on Lake Michigan are considered "upbound" though they are sailing toward its effluent current; the Chicago River and Calumet River systems connect the Great Lakes Basin to the Mississippi River System through man-made alterations and canals. The St. Marys River, including the Soo Locks, connects Lake Superior to Lake Huron; the Straits of Mackinac connect Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. The St. Clair River connects Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair; the Detroit River connects Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie; the Niagara River, including Niagara Falls, connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. The Welland Canal, bypassing the Falls, connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario; the Saint Lawrence River and the Saint Lawrence Seaway connect Lake Ontario to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which connects to the Atlantic Ocean. Lakes Huron and Michigan are sometimes considered a single lake, called Lake Michigan–Huron, because they are one hydrological body of water connected by the Straits of Mackinac.
The straits are 120 feet deep. Lake Nipigon, connected to Lake Superior by the Nipigon River, is surrounded by sill-like formations of mafic and ultramafic igneous rock hundreds of meters high; the lake lies in the Nipigon Embayment, a failed arm of the triple junction in the Midcontinent Rift System event, estimated at 1,109 million years ago. Green Bay is an arm of Lake Michigan, along the south coast of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the east coast of Wisconsin, it is separated from the rest of the lake by the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin, the Garden Peninsula in Michigan, the chain of islands between
The Cree are one of the largest groups of First Nations in North America. In Canada, over 350,000 people are Cree or have Cree ancestry.. The major proportion of Cree in Canada live north and west of Lake Superior, in Ontario, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. About 27,000 live in Quebec. In the United States, Cree people lived from Lake Superior westward. Today, they live in Montana, where they share the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation with Ojibwe people; the documented westward migration over time has been associated with their roles as traders and hunters in the North American fur trade. The Cree were first contacted by Europeans in 1682, at the mouth of the Nelson and Hayes rivers in what is now northern Manitoba, by a Hudson's Bay Company party traveling about 100 miles inland. In the south, contact was later. In 1732 in what is now northwestern Ontario, Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye, met with an assembled group of 200 Cree warriors near present-day Fort Frances, as well as with the Monsoni.
Both groups had donned war paint in preparation to an attack on the Dakota and another group of Ojibwe. After acquiring firearms from the HBC, the Cree moved as traders into the plains, acting as middlemen with the HBC; the Cree are divided into eight groups based on dialect and region. These divisions do not represent ethnic sub-divisions within the larger ethnic group: Naskapi and Montagnais are inhabitants of an area they refer to as Nitassinan, their territories comprise most of the present-day political jurisdictions of eastern Quebec and Labrador. Their cultures are differentiated, as some of the Naskapi are still caribou hunters and more nomadic than many of the Montagnais; the Montagnais have more settlements. The total population of the two groups in 2003 was about 18,000 people, of which 15,000 lived in Quebec, their dialects and languages are the most distinct from the Cree spoken by the groups west of Lake Superior. Atikamekw are inhabitants of the area they refer to as Nitaskinan, in the upper St. Maurice River valley of Quebec.
Their population is around 4,500. East Cree – Grand Council of the Crees. Moose Cree – Moose Factory in the Cochrane District, Ontario. Swampy Cree – this group lives in northern Manitoba along the Hudson Bay coast and adjacent inland areas to the south and west, in Ontario along the coast of Hudson Bay and James Bay; some live in eastern Saskatchewan around Cumberland House. It has 4,500 speakers. Woods Cree – a group in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Plains Cree – a total of 34,000 people in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Montana. Due to the many dialects of the Cree language, the people have no modern collective autonym; the Plains Cree and Attikamekw refer to themselves using modern forms of the historical nêhiraw, namely nêhiyaw and nêhirawisiw, respectively. Moose Cree, East Cree and Montagnais all refer to themselves using modern dialectal forms of the historical iriniw, meaning'man.' Moose Cree use the form ililiw, coastal East Cree and Naskapi use iyiyiw, inland East Cree use iyiniw, Montagnais use ilnu and innu, depending on dialect.
The Cree use "Cree," "cri," "Naskapi, or "montagnais" to refer to their people only when speaking French or English. As hunter-gatherers, the basic unit of organization for Cree peoples was the lodge, a group of eight or a dozen people the families of two separate but related married couples, who lived together in the same wigwam or tipi, the band, a group of lodges who moved and hunted together. In the case of disagreement lodges could leave bands, bands could be formed and dissolved with relative ease, but as there is safety in numbers, all families would want to be part of some band, banishment was considered a serious punishment. Bands would have strong ties to their neighbours through intermarriage and would assemble together at different parts of the year to hunt and socialize together. Besides these regional gatherings, there was no higher-level formal structure, decisions of war and peace were made by consensus with allied bands meeting together in council. People could be identified by their clan, a group of people claiming descent from the same common ancestor.
Each band remained independent of each other. However, Cree-speaking bands tended to work together and with their neighbours against outside enemies; those Cree who moved onto the Great Plains and adopted bison hunting, called the Plains Cree, were allied with the Assiniboine and the Saulteaux in what was known as the "Iron Confederacy", a major force in the North American fur trade from the 1730s to the 1870s. The Cree and the Assiniboine were important intermediaries in the Indian trading networks on the northern plains; when a band went to war, they would nominate a temporary military commander, called a okimahkan. Loosely translated as "war chief"; this office was different from that of the "peace chief", a leader who had a role more like that of diplomat. In the run-up to the 1885 North-West Rebellion, Big Bear was the leader of his band, but once the fighting start
Kelly Jean Church is black ash basket maker, Woodlands style painter, birchbark biter, educator. Kelly Church, a fifth-generation basket maker, was born in 1967, she grew up in southwestern Michigan. Her mother is English and Irish, her father is Odawa and Ojibwe. Church studied the Odawa language from her paternal grandmother and learned black ash basketry from her father, Bill Church, cousin, John Pigeon, she in turn has taught Cherish Parrish. Church earned an Associate of Fine Arts degree from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2006 and Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 2008. Church harvests her own trees with her family in swampy areas of rural Michigan. Preparing the materials takes far longer than the weaving, she removes the bark from the felled log, splits apart the growth rings into finer and finer splints for basketry. The splints are soaked before weaving, her baskets range from the utilitarian fishing creels, market baskets, bark baskets to traditional, rectangular wedding baskets and whimsical strawberry baskets.
She creates experimental baskets, with materials such as copper and plastic window blinds – the latter a warning of what the future might look like without black ash trees. Church is one of the few birchbark biters active today; this precontact Great Lakes art form involves biting designs with one's eyeteeth into folded sheet of young paper birch bark. The bit areas turn a dark brown, her designs are both abstract and representational, featuring turtles and other subjects. Inspired by the Woodlands style of painting created by Norval Morrisseau, Church paints characters from her tribes' oral histories, such as Nanabozho, or the wildlife native to Michigan, such as sandhill cranes, she works in acrylic on canvas and uses contrasting colors for maximum optical brilliance. Kelly Church has won many awards for her basketry, including the Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Award and the 2008 Southwestern Association for Indian Arts Fellowship. In 2006 and 2008, she organized a symposium about tactics to save the black ash tree from the emerald ash borer, with funding and support from the National Museum of the American Indian.
More Church received the National Museum of the American Indian Artist Leadership Program Award, as well as the Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Award. Church was awarded best of basketry classification by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts at the Santa Fe Indian Market in 2016; the Smithsonian Institution awarded her a Native Scholars Fellowship in 2016. The National Endowment for the Arts named Church as one of its 2018 National Heritage Fellows. List of indigenous artists of the Americas Visual arts by indigenous peoples of the Americas Chicago Tribune Article, April 2017 Weaving and Protecting a History: A Conversation with Basketmaker Kelly Church, National Museum of the American Indian The Art of Kelly Church and Cherish Parrish Michigan Basket Maker Talks About Her Art. Morning Edition on WKAR, Story #954