Lisa Telford is a weaver who creates contemporary garments, shoes and other objects using Northwest Coast style weaving techniques. Her work serves as a commentary on Native identity, stereotypes and fashion.
Born in Ketchikan Alaska, Telford is a Gawa Git’ans Git’anee Haida Weaver and comes from a long line of weavers including her grandmother, mother, aunt, cousins, and daughter. She learned the traditional techniques of Haida basketry from her mentor Delores Churchill, and Haida cedar garments thanks to Holly Churchill. She began weaving in 1992, and for twelve years closely followed the tradition that form must follow function. It wasn’t until a friend asked her to submit a contemporary basket for a show that Lisa experimented beyond the borders of traditional form. This opened a door for her, and in 2004 she was asked to design a contemporary cedar-clothing piece for a show. She used traditional methods and materials, but felt more confident and inspired to experiment – creating a contemporary clothing item from cedar.
With her National Artist Fellowship from Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Lisa collaborated with Preston Singletary (Tlingit), known for his glass art. Preston has developed techniques to mimic the woven texture of basketry, paying homage to the geometric border designs of traditional Northwest Coast baskets. Lisa worked with Preston in his Seattle, Wash. based hot glass studio learning the hands-on skills of working with glass, how to incorporate designs and shapes, and experimenting with forms such as dress figures, working collaboratively as a designer with Preston. They hope to create some new and compelling pieces, joining their expertise from their respective disciplines.