MEDIUM: Quillwork and Beadwork
LOCATION: Cut Bank, MT
Deborah Magee is a full-time traditional artist born and raised on the Blackfeet reservation. She has always had a toehold in the art world with a degree in art history and a master's degree in education, but it wasn't until her youngest was in kindergarten that she was able to do her first professional show in 1998. Since then, Deborah has been a full-time artist doing art shows and also tutoring part-time.
Deborah shared "when I work with the traditional materials of my ancestors, I am reminded of the earth and the elements which have shaped our mother. I am reminded of the wind and glaciers which have carved out our foothills and mountains. The porcupine quills that I moisten in my mouth tastes of the bark of the pine trees and I think of the poetic descriptions of the trees as the “green standing people.” A single quill brings back a collective memory of the green standing ones who nourished the porcupine and thus made the quill. When I stretch a smoked hide and prepare it for beadwork, I imagine the four-legged ones that roam the prairies, land provided sustenance for our people. With all of this I am awed. With these materials, I am grateful. And I give silent thanks to all who went before and perfected these techniques."
Deborah's Cultural Capital fellowship project will be to implement a quillwork mentorship program for young people on her reservation that will also provide instruction on how to sell and market their work professionally.