Grantee: Joe Feddersen
Native Citizenship: Member of Colville Confederated Tribes
Location: Omak, Washington
Award: 2020 Mentor Artist Fellowship
Discipline: Contemporary Visual Arts
In his 40-year artistic career, Feddersen has worked in painting, basketry, glass sculpture, photography and computer-generated imagery. He has a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking, and has served as a college professor and educator. Much of his work is influenced by traditional Plateau-style basketry, which reflects the Northwestern landscapes, flora, and fauna. He also draws from the cultural landscape of his home: current events, regional histories, tribal legacies, personal narratives, and contemporary dialogues. Feddersen has completed several permanent public art projects that explore scale and material, and convey narratives that provide a greater understanding of the land and the region’s cultural practices.
Feddersen says his artwork is grounded in tradition but reflective of the present. Using a variety of traditional artforms and media, such as baskets, fishing weirs, petroglyphs and canoes, his work both celebrates his culture and speaks to a Plateau-Native viewpoint of the current world around us. As an example, he has created blown-glass installations that reflect the urban environment, such as parking lots, high-voltage towers, and highways, as well as glass and woven baskets which he adorns with patterns derived from SUV tires.
Feddersen has established himself as one of the leading basketweavers in the country. In the Colville traditions, baskets were used as a form storytelling, through their imagery and design, as well as for storing foods and medicines. Feddersen is committed to revitalizing this ancient art form, as he utilizes the basket as a visual aid to teach Native youth about their culture and history.
For their 2020 Mentor Artist Fellowship, Feddersen and his apprentice, Julie Edwards (Member of Colville Confederated Tribes), will share their tribal history through baskets which they plan to create throughout the fellowship period. As the baskets are completed, they will go to the local Headstart youth programs and use the baskets to tell stories to the students.
My mother shared with me a comment from my grandmother and she basically said it was important for us to come home. She stated there is always a place for you – you belong with your people. I look at the mentorship as an opportunity to give back to my community and a way to help other younger artists.
– Joe Feddersen