This month NTVTWT will begin a monthly exploration of the artists of #NativeTwitter and Instagram, we will cover the work of multiple artists with in-depth coverage of our artist of the month and explore the terms and techniques of Native arts that some of our readers might be less familiar with.
NTVTWT has been planning a monthly Beading and other Native Artists feature and considered a few artists for our debut article but when long time favorite Wapshkankwet was taken from us by a combination of the targeted effort of hate and the biased policies of a certain social media platform we knew she had to be our debut artist.
Outspoken online-educator, artist and advocate (and published author under the name Sarah Perrote) Wapshkankwet has been a staple of Native Twitter for a long time, when the news came out that we had lost her voice on twitter many of us had the same reaction but Adam Beach said it best –
It is terrible she was targeted cause she was my favorite ❤️
— adam beach (@adamruebenbeach) July 13, 2019
The loss of such a twitter favorite of many, including yours truly, was a huge blow but we tracked her down and are happy to report that there are many ways to continue to follow her and buy her work including Instagram, Etsy, and her website wapshkankwet.org (where she will be sharing both her art work and writing, including details about her upcoming book!).
She was generous enough to make time for us despite a busy schedule that includes her work in the Mental Health field, parenting, and numerous creative projects- from beading to writing and even working on a monster series with George (@devilishgrin000) and @obeylenay for Halloween 2019, so please take a moment to learn more about the mother of #NativeTwitter’s favorite beading assistant and find out how you can continue to follow her work. Because we can’t link her tweets, as she is no longer on twitter, and because she is such a gifted writer herself this article is going to break with NTVTWT tradition and use the interview format so that our readers can enjoy her answers word-for-word. (Because this is an extended article it will be the only one published in August.)
M: What drew you to bead-work?
W: I’ve had a love hate relationship with beading since I was a young child, I really started to bead when I was 9 years old and my older siblings and my mom are responsible for my earliest memories of beading. My journey with beading began when I had the opportunity to live on women’s land in New Mexico with my Auntie, Cherie. I stopped beading until I was 17 years old, at that point I landed myself in an all Native drug rehab facility in Arizona. Beading was one of the very few things we could do in our down time. What drew me in each time was the opportunity to slow down, focus on something tangible that wasn’t part of the mess that was my life, and see (almost) immediate progress and results. And my life has been very chaotic, with not many opportunities to sit and quietly reflect on much of anything.
M: Obviously when you sell your work you get compensation for your labor and artistry but do you get any extra reward more from the process of beading?
W: Oh, yes there are rewards! I would say the biggest rewards for me are the immediate gratification of having something completed, or being able to see and feel notable progress on a project. Also the soothing sensation of a repetitive action truly makes many concerns and negative thoughts and feelings just fade away; smudging before I bead, smoothing the materials under my fingertips and being able to witness my vision becoming a reality. My mom used to say beading is like praying, you’re intentional, thoughtful, and guided in your beading. Beading comes with a lot of memories and lessons that can be applied to life. I appreciate that beading is something that can be shared, in the process from teaching, learning, to networking and exchanging products, supplies, and ideas. Beading presents an opportunity to grow.
M: What do you like or dislike most about beading?
W: What I dislike most about beading is having to obtain materials and waiting for them to arrive. I live in a very populated, urban area right now, but there really aren’t many shops or suppliers close to me. The shops that do exist typically don’t carry what I need, and if they do, they’re pricey and inconsistent in carrying the same product. Simple solution is obviously to plan ahead and order online, being faithful to suppliers. I also ask family members to make trades for some items that I need.
M: Do you have any other creative pursuits or passions?
W: I am a published poet. I have worked on writing projects with others and have 2 of my own books available on Amazon (Speaking Silently and Ant Hills Stories Girls Group by Sarah Perrote). I am a Mental Health Care Professional and use my knowledge and experience in that field with my writing and art projects. I also paint and work with other mediums and forms of art.
Both the Settler Tears and Quill earrings are ongoing and available for purchase
M: What’s the best beading advice you’ve received or is their any advice or warnings you wish you had gotten when you were first starting out?
M: What is something a lot of people don’t know about you?
W: When I moved to Virginia and was accepted to my program at University, I fought to have my Indigenous language be officially recognized in place of foreign language requirements, and I won. In spring of 2020 I will be going back to fight for all Native/Indigenous languages to be given the same respect and recognition. I am hoping this will become a norm across the board, to have indigenous languages be accepted in replace of foreign language requirements. I know in my own homelands they refused to honor my people’s language at my school.
M: Who are some of your favorite Native Beading artists?
W: @igmuthankastore I think they use Twitter more, but HOLY WOW, her beading is CLEAN. I also love @strikingstick (Instagram), @iamlakota (Instagram) is a heartful beader who is a single native mama and I highly recommend supporting. I also love @cricketcrocker (twitter)’s work, I know they also have a beading twitter but I don’t remember it by handle since being off twitter.
Beadwork currently available:
Beaded bolo tie with 3” abalone medallion. Colors are brown, reddish brown, abalone, black and grey. Price: $60, includes domestic s&h. pic.twitter.com/WsbKWdnkJP
— Igmú Tȟáŋka (@igmuthankastore) July 18, 2019
Daylight photos of peyote cabochon-set stones pic.twitter.com/SpFkPEiN35
— Seed&Stone Beadwork (@Seed_and_Stone) July 5, 2019
View this post on Instagram
Please read. Share. I am still a cancer killing machine. Minor setback tho. Not so great news with my medical treatments. I have a mammogram scheduled for the lump I've had since pregnancy. I have a colonoscopy and new medications, and more… due to medical issues since baby was born I am still not working and I am needing to raise $541.00 by yesterday. If you see anytbing, DM me. If you want a commission, DM me. I have more to post and more projects I'm finishing to sell. #FuckCancer #buynative #SupportArtists #supportsmallbusiness #beadwork #beading #beaded all posts will be on @melancholynow
We are truly blessed to have such a strong advocate for Native artistry, culture and health, what a gift she is to our community. It was truly an honor to get to know Wapshkankwet and her work on this level.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wapshkankwet/ (pictures of beading and other art as well as coverage of our favorite beading assistant)
Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MelancholyNow (lots of great work for sale)
Her website: https://wapshkankwet.org/ (where we can not only see her artwork and writing but also support her now eagerly anticipated book!)
Wapshkankwet‘s price range: free (trades, or giving away) to $100.00
For those of us who aren’t experienced beaders we will be adding to your working vocabulary every month with a new beading term.
This month’s beading term is:
Seed beads- small round, often donut shaped beads that come in many shapes, sizes, colors and finishes. They can be made from plastic, glass, stone, gemstones, wood, metal and other materials but glass is the most common material. Commonly used to adorn Native regalia they are used in loom and off-loom bead weaving techniques such as brick stitch and peyote stitch as well as for simple and patterned stringing, finger weaving, and as spacers between other beads in other forms of jewelry making.
Come back next month for two installments of Native Artists Online, each with its own featured artist and their favorite beaders and other artists, and until then follow Wapshkankwet and her favorite Native Beading Artists on Twitter and Instagram and be sure to check out https://wapshkankwet.org/