Jennifer M. Stevens, 2014 NACF Regional Artist Fellow for the Upper Plains, lands her debut solo exhibition at Neville Museum in Green Bay Wisconsin entitled, “One Hand Full of Earth.” Her spirit and ancestral heritage is sculpted into every piece she creates.
The lecture-exhibition, “One Hand Full of Earth”, Swahtsyá nat Ne Ohύtya (pronounced Swawt-jaah-nawt Nay Oh-hoo-juh) is inspired from one of the Oneida creation stories – the Creator tried using sea foam then sand and soil to create a human being, but finally, with one handful of earth the Creator was able to sculpt first man and woman.
Stevens has studied and apprenticed under many master potters in her lifetime; though additionally she also infuses a spiritual nature to her work. A part of her process is naming each pot according to the spirit she perceives coming through it. For example, “A Good Mind” is a perfectly round pot named after Peace Maker, a messenger sent by the Creator carrying powerful words of peace to the five warring nations of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Mohawk and the Oneida. She interprets each of her pottery creations through a connection to her ancestral roots by allowing it to emerge into what it is meant to be, rarely what she wants it to be.
Stevens attributes her success landing the Neville exhibition to the NACF fellowship, “When a museum gets an artist coming in with a fellowship they see you as having credibility and recognition.”
Stevens is also gearing up for a research project this summer. “This [fellowship] has given me the opportunity to go to New York State and engage with museums, which is something I’ve always wanted to do,” says the artist. Her plans include visiting the Rochester Museum and the New York State Museum in Albany, both of which hold some of the largest collections of Iroquois pottery.
“One of the best days I had was when I got the call from NACF about my award,” said Stevens. “It is encouraging for artists such as myself that there are people that believe in you,” she added.
Stevens’ exhibit will open at the Neville Museum of Green Bay, Wisconsin on October 29, 2015, just in time to celebrate National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.
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