2017 Mentor Artist Fellow Update: Delina White

2017 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) Mentor Artist Fellow Delina White (Ojibwe) creates appliqué and beadwork apparel using traditional Woodland designs of the Great Lakes nations. The use of ribbons and beads was adapted into Native art and apparel during the latter part of the 18th century from the exchange of goods with traders from Europe. The exact origin of ribbonwork appliqué is unknown, but by the beginning of the 19th century, Europeans had observed this unique style of decoration among several tribes. 1

During the Mentor Artist Fellowship year, White worked with her apprentice Joy Campaigne (Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians) to pass on her knowledge of Anishinaabe Woodland designs, history, appliqué and beadwork techniques. In addition to regular one-on-one lessons, the two artists participated in community engagement events including workshops, classes, panels, speaking engagements and demonstrations. The mentorship fostered experiences to support the learning process and expression of creativity in relation to Ojibwe history and culture. This included research and visits to museum archives to get an appreciation for hand-made products and to perpetuate the traditional art forms of Woodland people.

As part of the Fellowship, White and Campaigne created a joint art project that was presented at a workshop demonstration on May 12, 2018, at the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO), a shelter service for Native women and their children who have been victims of domestic violence.

Apprentice Joy Campaigne displaying the joint art project. Anishinaabe Woodland Floral Style Appliqué and Beaded Woman’s Cloth & Woolen Strap Dress plus hat and jacket.

Through the apprenticeship, Campaigne was exposed to the multiple aspects of being a full-time artist, from concept and design to planning and execution. “Everyone has their own creative vision, likes and dislikes, and the only thing I can encourage is to look at things with an eye for detail and find solutions to get to the end results, to be attentive to your surroundings and know your history, so you can understand the importance of the art you make, and being careful about the kind of medicine you put into the universe”, says White regarding her role as a mentor.

1“History of American Indian Ribbonwork.” Indian Country Wisconsin – Federal Acknowledgement or Federal Recognition, www.mpm.edu/research-collections/anthropology/online-collections-research/ribbonwork-woodland-indians/history-an.

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