#followfriday Four Indigenous Beaders to Follow Pt. 1
Beading is a form of storytelling that allows artists to embrace their history and culture. Through their work, beaders are proudly sharing their own identities and taking back power from colonial influences. As the waves of feminism continue to rise and progress, women (and men) are reclaiming identities that have been stripped away, and beautiful handmade pieces like these are opening dialogues around systemic oppression while individualizing our stories of daily survival -- and excellence.
Beading is an art and an act of storytelling. Each piece of beadwork represents the history of its maker — no two beaded items are the same. Like all artists, beaders create their work out of a desire to share their culture with others or to express themselves in a new way. Beading has a very long history within Indigenous cultures and communities, and evolves with time to weave together traditional knowledge with contemporary styles to make modern pieces. Here are 4 Indigenous beaders that you can support:
Running Fox Beads
Behind the cute and modern designs of these beaded accessories is Sky Paul, an Indigenous urban subculture designer from Toronto. She collaborates with younger generations to reflect on their identity and culture to create apparel soaked in vibrant colours and intricate designs. Despite its traditional form, her artwork depicts a new meaning: she uses her practice as an act of survival, just like her ancestors did. Her mission is to make Indigenous art accessible to all ages by reclaiming the traditional practice and integrating modern design elements in the hopes of expanding its reach. Behind Sky Paul's work are her roots — the Cree community she belongs to. As such, they're part of every single piece that she creates.
Jess Sanderson-Barr is a Nîhiyaw iskwew from Treaty 6 territory who combines traditional and contemporary beadwork techniques. She creates beautiful intricate designs — all featuring traditional materials (hides) and contemporary beads. Her goal is to take the knowledge of her ancestors and families (and her own skills) to create accessories for the modern woman.
Jess is committed to maintaining the tradition of hide work. She works closely with knowledge keepers to share ancient teachings and cultural wisdom with younger generations.
Kihew & Rose
Those who love minimal designs will also love the designer Adrienne Laroque who is a Nehiyaw iskwew from Treaty 6 Territory, Kisipatnahk (Louis Bull Band). Adrienne's designs range in inspiration from designing heirloom pieces, to special occasion jewelry for events such as weddings and graduations, to designing everyday wearable accessories for modern women in mind. She is known for her beaded fan earrings, which make a great piece of office wear.
Inspired by both contemporary fashion trends and traditional jewelry design, Adrienne Laroque studied fashion at Blanche Mcdonald with the goal of focusing on accessible styles of stunningly beautiful handmade contemporary Indigenous beadwork that can be worn every day. By fusing classical bead-and-embellishment techniques with simple forms and clean lines, she creates unique pieces that reflect the aesthetics of both Indigenous traditions and urban fashion.
Monday May Jewelry
Monday May Jewelry designs are inspired by traditional values and rooted in the creative identity of its designer, Monday Blues. Monday Blues (she/they), who currently resides on the unceded ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations (otherwise known as Vancouver, BC), is an Afro-Indigenous (Togolese-Secwepemc) burlesque artist, life coach, advocate and activist, to name a few of her involvements. In recent years she started her own line of jewelry. Afro and Indigenous-owned — she's reclaiming her heritage and forging ahead with heartfelt creativity through the works of beading. Monday May has created sustainable luxury fashion with captivating designs that will stand the test of time.
Her designs come from an intersectional understanding of the world we live in. She strives to create beautiful pieces that reflect sustainable lifestyles — a necessity in both modern urban cities and for native tribes throughout the Americas.
Monday provides a platform for sellers to re-think the traditional marketplace model; instead of focusing on financial gains, she centers community sustainability, and encourages folks to buy into brands that support sustainable fashion and artists.
The beading scene has continued to flourish over time as new methods and influences enter the community every day innovating their own expression through this medicinal art practice.
As there are plenty of names to feature, this series will continue on as its own. Follow us every Friday to learn on how you can support Indigenous businesses, organizations and artists.
Written by Denita Gladeau