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Two events to focus on raised beading in September

Posted on Aug 18, 2016 by

Two events to focus on raised beading in September

Raised beading will raise its profile with two events taking place in September. The International Iroquois Beadwork Conference will be held at the Oneida Community Education Center September 16-18, and the James Watrous Gallery in Madison will host Beading Culture – Raised Beadwork and the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin September 16 to November 6.

This will be the first time the beadwork conference will be hosted in Wisconsin, and artist Judith Jourdan is looking forward to the event.

“I’m really excited about the New York Indians, the New York Oneidas coming here. It’s been a long time coming. I think the Wisconsin beaders just started making a name for themselves in the past couple of years, and I thought it was really exciting when the first of our group went there and starting winning first place awards in New York and in Canada,” she said.

The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) are known for their distinctive raised beadwork technique. Typically associated with items made for tourists around Niagara Falls, this technique arose in the 19th century and was widely practiced into the 1950s, particularly among the Tuscarora and Mohawk Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. The style is relatively new to Wisconsin, but a group of dedicated beaders have been working on their art for the past 30 years.

“The New York beaders are kind of staying in the old patterns, the patterns that have been handed down, and most of them are closer to that because of their location. A lot of their ancestors and their teachers are from the old school, and the Wisconsin beaders are kind of changing the style somewhat,” said Jourdan.

It was the work of a group that would come together to work on their beading, includes Sandra Wescott Gauthier, Loretta Webster, and Betty Willems, that caught the attention of Director the James Watrous Gallery Jody Clowes.

“They wanted to do some things to educate the public as far as the Iroquois style beadwork,” said Jourdan. “She came to visit one of the bead circles, and she was very impressed.”

For more information about the International Iroquois Raised Beadwork Conference visit or call Delores Elliott at 607-729-0016. The registration fee of $100 is due September 2.

The Watrous Gallery show Beading Culture will showcase the work of Wisconsin Oneida artists dedicated to the survival of one of their most important artistic traditions: Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) raised beadwork. Created in partnership with the Oneida Nation Arts Program, the exhibit tells a complex, layered story of cultural resilience and the role of art in defining community. Featured artists include Rodrick Elm, Sandra Wescott Gauthier, Karen Ann Hoffman, April Jordan, Judith L. Jourdan, James Kelly, Christine Klimmek, Rose Malanik, Laura Manthe, Christine Munson, Stefanie Sikorokowski, Loretta Webster, Rebecca Webster, and Betty Willems.

Through the inclusion of historic raised beadwork pieces; works by artists Lorna Hill (Cayuga), Rosemary Rickard Hill (Tuscarora), and Samuel Thomas (Cayuga), who have mentored the Wisconsin Oneida beaders; and video of contemporary beading circles, Beading Culture will communicate the evolution of raised beadwork over time and its importance to the Oneida today.

For the artists’ reception on Saturday afternoon, September 24, we are seeking four-five panelists to participate in a public conversation about the importance of raised beadwork in their lives and communities. We expect an audience of up to 150, most of whom will be non-Natives from the Madison area, and can offer a modest honorarium and travel allowance for each panelist. There will also be tables set up in the lecture hall for artists who would like to offer informal demonstrations of raised beadwork before or after the panel. If you would like to participate as a panelist or demonstrating artist, please contact Jody Clowes, director of the James Watrous Gallery: or 608-265-2655. Priority will be given to artists represented in the exhibit.

Beading Culture is co-curated by Jody Clowes, James Watrous Gallery Director, and Anne Pryor, recently retired as the Folk and Traditional Arts Specialist for the Wisconsin Arts Board, with help and guidance from the artists themselves and from staff at the Oneida Nation Arts Program and the Oneida Nation Museum.

Beading Culture is supported in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for Humanities; Dane Arts, with additional funding from the Evjue Foundation, charitable arm of The Capital Times, and the Endres Mfg. Co. Foundation; and the Madison Arts Commission, with additional funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board.

The James Watrous Gallery is located at 201 State Street, 3rd Floor, Madison.