Carly Feddersen, Mountain Diamond Elk Tooth, 2021
GRANTEE: Carly Feddersen
NATIVE HERITAGE: Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
LOCATION: Wenatchee, WA
AWARD: 2022 LIFT – Early Career Support for Native Artists
DISCIPLINE: Multi-Disciplinary Arts
Born and raised in Wenatchee, Washington, Carly Feddersen’s work emphasizes storytelling and making connections between her Plateau heritage and contemporary culture. Her jewelry often incorporates humorous images of skulls and wolves, as well as motifs from basketry and beadwork. Humor and irony are important elements of this work which is rooted in the material culture and traditional stories of the Columbia Plateau. She says, “With cheeky humor, my work tells short stories that translate ideas with anthropomorphic and animist themes into jewelry. The material culture of the plateau and the stories of creation are important sources of inspiration for me, as are the stones that I collect to use in my work. The jewelry I make is often a personification of the pieces of land they are made of.”
Feddersen’s work makes a unique contribution to contemporary Native fine art jewelry. In a field largely dominated by artists from the Southwest, her work is distinctly Plateau. She carves regionally sourced stones into figures which personify land with modern flair. The use of elk teeth makes connections between traditional Plateau status symbols and status symbols in self adornment used today. These themes offer a view of Plateau heritage from a current perspective. Reviving traditional beadmaking and reclaiming a history of pre-contact bead adornment with deeper cultural ties than those acquired through trade.
I love working with found stones. Very often, the stones tell me what they want to be as soon as I see them.
—Carly Fedderson (Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation)
Feddersen’s LIFT project, Untraded Jewelry, will incorporate glasswork into her practice in the form of beadmaking, a tradition long predating European trade, making a series adopting the glass material introduced by trade to create vibrant and lively work outside of the Euro-trade relationship. The project will involve working in a glass studio to make custom stringers for bead production. The stringers will be cut, shaped, and polished into finished beads for jewelry pieces. She will also fabricate silver, stone, and elk ivory elements using silversmithing, casting, and carving to create additional components that depict scenes from plateau stories and culture to complete each piece of fine art jewelry. This unique body of work aims to renew a tradition of beadmaking and incorporates these handmade “untraded” beads into fine art jewelry pieces, offering a fresh expression of Plateau stories and adornment.