Grantee: Patrick William Kruse
Native Citizenship: Red Cliff Band of Superior Chippewa Indians, descendent of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
Location: Onamia, Minnesota
Award: 2018 Mentor Artist Fellowship
Discipline: Traditional Arts, Birch Bark Art
Web Site: pat-kruse.com
The Ojibwe spread across the upper Midwest region primarily throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and North Dakota, and their bands together are known as the Anishinaabe. Many can recognize the Ojibwe style and design in their beadwork, quillwork, canoe making, weaving and birch bark baskets. For millennia, the Anishinaabe have shared their knowledge, stories, art, and food; and Patrick William Kruse will continue this practice by sharing his in-depth and vast traditional knowledge in birch bark basketmaking.
Kruse has spent more than thirty years practicing his art of birch bark basket making. He is considered a culture bearer by way of practicing many of his other Ojibwe traditions, such as wild rice harvesting, seasonal birch bark gathering, and the use of natural sinew to stitch his baskets together. Kruse continues to generously share old designs and patterns that he discovered in research with community youth and elders, and many other artists traveling throughout his region. As Kruse stated, for him, discovering these old designs and patterns—so many of which are not utilized in contemporary art forms—he felt that the ancestors were speaking to him through the historic basketry. Thus, he was compelled to educate others. Because of his artistic skills and reciprocity to learn and pass on cultural knowledge, Kruse is deeply respected and exhibits widely in his community, including art galleries, museums, and art gift shops throughout Minnesota.
During his 2018 Mentor Artist Fellowship year, Kruse will collaborate with Terri Ann Hom (Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians) to create birch bark baskets with the incorporation of traditional bead and quillwork. Kruse has been featured in various media and interviewed for several articles about the art and practice of birch bark basketmaking. A select few of his past exhibitions in the region include, “Visions and Viewpoints, Art of the Dakota and Ojibwe People” and “Mni Sota: Reflections of Time and Place.” His latest exhibition, “Renewing What They Gave Us” ran Fall 2017 to Spring 2018.
As I continue to pursue my passion, I have come across a variety of artists that have shared their knowledge and skills, and it is my hope to do the same and share what I know and what I have been taught with other Ojibwe artists.
~ Patrick William Kruse
Mni Sota: Reflections of Time and Place exemplifies the innovative nature of Native American artists whose ingenuity promotes cultural continuity.