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Megan McDermott

Honoring Traditions

Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana

SFT 502

Vibrant color and movement are at the forefront of my work. I am able to work within a variety of styles, all which are purposefully done to tell specific stories. The stories told revolve around traditional Native stories, symbolism, or calls to action around social causes or environmental causes. I use acrylic paint primarily, with a dry blending technique and careful layering of colors. The colors used are thoughtfully carried out by analyzing color theory. I use a variety of glass seed beads (regions, types, finishes, sizes, colors) as if I am painting with them. A sense of design with color, movement, and texture are at the forefront of my work, and because of this I am not always seeking perfectly flat stitching because I want the piece to feel alive if one were to touch it. With my beaded portraits, I am a painter and illustrator for many more years before beading, so I use the understanding of painting to shape the face with the colors and type of the beads to best represent the face. I do not trace over photographs with the beads. I use a contoured pencil drawing of the face and fill it one bead at a time as if I am painting a contoured face. At the moment because I lack constant access to traditional materials, I use stiffened felt for it's affordability, as well as nymo threads with my beads and sharps needles. But the beadwork is backed with commercial grade buckskin. Gessoed Canvas is a convenient source as well for my beadwork. I am using buckskin to memorialize a family tradition of frybread. I not only have been making frybread since I was a little girl taught to me by my Blackfeet grandma, but making small frybread earrings out of beadwork. I decided to make some out of buckskin as a dedication to her memory, but also of the importance of frybread in keeping so many Native people alive, including my family when we were severely poor while I was growing up in Montana. I utilize the same technique of making moccasins by the sewing inside out method with a welt and the whip stitch. Then I turn inside out, stuff with natural undyed cotton batting, then sew shit. Then I cut a hole, then begin shaping the material with tight tension of nymo thread, then finally carefully painting with mixing acrylic paints and dabbing on to maintain texture of the sueded buckskin, which is commercial grade white buckskin. I want to take use of buckskin and push it to its boundaries of what can be made with it. Vintage beads too.