Dyani White Hawk, a 2017 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) Mentor Artist, recently completed her joint art project (on right) with apprentice Jennie Kappenman (Red Lake Ojibwe). White Hawk worked with Kappenman throughout her NACF Mentor Artist Fellowship year, teaching her the intricate skill of quillwork stitching. Kappenman learned how to harvest quills from porcupine hide, clean the quills, dye the quills in addition to seven different quillwork stitches and techniques. The primary focus of the mentorship year was to enable Kappenman to reach a place of self-sufficiency and ability to continue practicing quillwork on her own.
The Mentor Artist Fellowship aims to create a structured opportunity for the transfer of cultural knowledge. It provides resources for mentors to teach a new generation of artists in traditional and contemporary visual art practices. White Hawk taught her apprentice the art of quillwork stitching, but she also exposed her to other aspects of the arts field. She introduced Kappenman to other Native artists and culture bearers from whom they both learned additional birch box and quillwork skills. Additionally, Kappenman visited museum collections to conduct research, attended artist lectures, plus she learned best practices for photographing work, building an artist resume and writing an artist statement and biography.
Having the ability to take on an apprentice has done a great deal for my own confidence. By taking on the role of teacher, you must own your own abilities.
― Dyani White Hawk, 2017 NACF Mentor Artist Fellow
In reflecting on her mentorship year, White Hawk recognized that the impact of the Mentor Fellowship extends far beyond a joint art project. In teaching her apprentice she learned new skills, made meaningful connections with other artists, and was also inspired to devote more time to her own artistic practices. Kappenman will continue to work with White Hawk this upcoming year even though the mentorship year is officially over. She has been inspired to pursue a lifestyle that provides more time for her art. Their joint art project will be exhibited in a major exhibition for the Plains Art Museum in January 2019.
Joint Art Project:
Ogiishkmanisii (King Fisher), 2018
12” x 12”, Oil, beads, porcupine quills and thread on canvas
by Dyani White Hawk and Jennie Kappenman