Grantee: Jackie Larson Bread
Native Citizenship: Blackfeet (Amskapi Pikuni)
Location: Great Falls, Montana
Award: 2020 Mentor Artist Fellowship
Discipline: Traditional Arts
Jackie Larson Bread has dedicated the past fifty years to practicing and developing her unique style of beadwork. She comes from a long line of artists to whom she carefully listened, absorbing the knowledge passed on to her from her relatives. Now, she is a respected culture bearer in her community and an accomplished artist nationwide.
Bread creates utilitarian objects using a pictorial style of beadwork that features floral and geometric designs and vivid colors. Her work is deeply personal and a form of storytelling, often depicting family members and friends from her Blackfeet community. Many of the beaded portraits she creates are derived from vintage photos of people who her mother and father knew personally. Bread draws from stories her parents told her about these individuals and is interested in the physical characteristics of the person in the photograph – their hair, their clothing, the beadwork, the quillwork, the sewing, the cultural meaning, and the way the individual sat for the photographer all convey components of a story. In essence, she says she is painting with beads.
Bread has served as a consultant for the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian on Blackfeet traditional art. She has provided dozens of training classes for adults and children focusing on Blackfeet beadwork. She has lectured in many venues about her art and Blackfeet material culture, and throughout her career has collaborated with several artists. Over her fifty years of creating work, she has remained fascinated by the beauty, the construction, the meaning, the color, the tactile property, and the familial connection of these beaded pieces.
For the 2020 Mentor Artist Fellowship, Bread and her apprentice, Dugan A. Coburn (Enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe (Piikuni), also a descendant of Klamath, Pit River), will create a traditional Blackfeet men’s beaded outfit. These outfits are highly regarded in the Blackfeet community and will include a buckskin shirt, leggings, breech cloth, belt, moccasins, gantlets and bags.
My work is very narrative and personal, telling of family members and friends and the beauty that they emitted to the world. This is the basis of my art, my story telling.
– Jackie Larson Bread