Wood will share Native American culture during Kimball Art Center weaving classes
Registration is open now
The Kimball Art Center connects and inspires people through art exhibits, art talks, workshops and classes.
Spring class registration is now open and three classes will focus on Native American mat and basket weaving taught by Stephanie Wood, an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community in Oregon.
The classes are:
Kalapuya Cedar Weaving for Kids, 3-5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 21
Kalapuya Cattail Mat Weaving Workshop, 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, April 22
Western Red Cedar Basket and Coastal Sweetgrass Sedge Basket Weaving, 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday and Sunday, April 22 and 23.
“The first class is for kids ages 8 to 12,” said Wood, who is part Santiam and Yncalla Kalapula, Cow Creek Umpqua, Takelma Rogue River, Clackamas Chinook and Iroquois. “I’m going to make some copies of our tribal art. That way if the kids want to, they will be able to paint them on their mats.”
The second class is for families.
“They can make one large mat and one small mat out of cattails that I harvested here at my home,” Wood said during a phone call from her home in Polk County, Oregon. “During the class, I will talk about the traditional uses of these mats and talk about the processes.”
The basket class is just for adults.
“Family baskets and weaving traditions have been passed down through seven generations of my family, and are still continued today through our teachings and basket making,” Work said. “Since I don’t have any children as of right now, this is the main of many different reasons why it’s important to share my culture.
“If I can teach others, and maybe five or 10 out of 100 continue to do it, then I feel like I’ve done something worthwhile.”
Another reason Wood likes to share her culture is to let people know that some Native American people don’t necessarily look like the stereotypical caricatures found in films and cartoons.
“For example, I’m light skinned with blue eyes and have light brown and blonde hair,” she said. “I got a lot of flack growing up because of the way I looked. I didn’t look like the brown-skinned, long black-haired Native person, like my fiancé, who is from Eastern Oregon.”
Wood’s mother was one reason she didn’t have what many perceive as the Native American image.
“My great-grandmother made my mother wear long-sleeved shirts and big-rimmed hats so the sun wouldn’t darken her skin because my mother grew up on a reservation during a time when Native people would get teased or even hurt by non Natives,” Wood said. “When my mother married my father, she moved off the reservation close to his family and that was a very white area, so my mother did the same thing my great-grandmother did, and she also told us to not reveal that we were Indian in public or at school.”
That didn’t mean Wood was encouraged to forsake the traditions of her people.
“The thing was, I always had an appreciation for my culture because at home or when we weren’t at school, we would go to pow wows,” she said. “I used to dance in them when I was a kid, and we would spend time on the reservation at my grandmother’s house during the weekend.”
When she visited her family, Wood loved to hear stories about her great-great-great-grandmother Martha and her basket weaving.
“I have a picture of Martha and she is sitting in a chair with her hands in her lap,” Wood said. “The thing you notice is that her hands are really big from arthritis because she used those hands during early reservation life to make baskets, which our tribe is known for, to sell so she could put food on the table and clothe her family.”
Although Wood grew up with weaving, she didn’t start doing it herself until she was in high school.
“I loved it,” she said. “I mean, how many people can experience two cultures?”
Weaving was also a good fit for Wood’s personality.
“I love using my hands and weaving kept my hands busy, which was good, because I had what they say now is ADD,” she said with a laugh.
A couple of months ago, Wood received an email from Kimball Art Center Education Manager Jocelyn Scudder.
“She said she saw my work online and was interested in having me come teach classes, which is something that I do,” Wood said. “I travel all over Washington, Oregon, northern California and western Idaho to teach basket weaving and cultural education.
“So, when I got the email, I felt the opportunity would be so amazing because our Native culture here is much different than the one in the Utah area. I told her I would love to share those differences, and recognize the similarities.”
For information about the Kimball Art Center’s classes and workshops, visit http://www.kimballartcenter.org.
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