Please read the following important information carefully.
1) GATHERING & PREPARATION OF SPRUCE ROOTS - SPRING 2017
Each apprentice will be responsible for preparing enough spruce roots for the classes with Delores Churchill.
Please be aware that the root gathering and preparation, although rewarding, is time consuming and physically demanding, and can only happen during certain times of the year.
Spring time, as soon as the ground is soft enough to dig for roots, is the best period to gather. This can be as early as mid April or as late as early May. The length of time that the roots are worth harvesting depends on the weather. It can last until the end of May or early June. (Roots can also be gathered in late fall, generally around September/October. However, the preparation of fall roots is far more labor intensive.)
It is important that apprentices take every opportunity available to gather roots during this time, rain or shine(!), as there is no guarantee that all harvested roots are going to be usable for weaving, and it takes time and several trips to gather sufficient materials. In addition, beginner spruce root weavers must be prepared that a few roots will be destroyed when first learning to prepare the roots. We are looking for apprentices with the dedication to build a supply of roots for future, ongoing spruce root weaving.
It is also important that apprentices understand that harvesting is quite physically demanding. You must have the physical ability and stamina to search for roots on your hands and knees for long periods at a time, and walk, sometimes long distances, to the gathering spots. Think of it as hours of gardening with a significant hike before and after.
For artists outside of Juneau: If you are new to harvesting and preparing spruce roots, please identify a local artist as soon as possible who can show you where to harvest locally and how to harvest and prepare the roots. You may request a small stipend (amount TBD) to help compensate the artist’s time to get you started.
For Juneau-based artists: SHI will sponsor an organized spruce-root gathering with instructors Mary Lou King and Janice Criswell. The root gathering is set to take place by the Juneau Airport, May 12 – 14, but may be changed depending on when harvesting becomes possible and if both instructors and participants are available. Further root preparation with instructors may become possible, however apprentices are encouraged to team up to continue gathering and preparing on their own.
2) WEAVING WITH DELORES CHURCHILL IN JUNEAU
Class #1: JULY 31 - AUG 12
Class #2: OCTOBER 30 - NOVEMBER 4
The weaving classes will take place on weekdays from 5 pm – 9 pm and Saturdays from 9 am – 3 pm for a total of 50 hours of instruction in class #1 and 25 hours of instruction in class #2.
Both classes will include advanced spruce-root weaving technique, and at least one visit to the Alaska State Museum collections to study historical spruce root baskets.
There is no instruction fee for this mentor-apprenticeship.
SHI will provide the tools needed for all apprentices.
We will offer a stipend (TBD) for up to 4 apprentices who do not live in Juneau to help defray some of the travel/accommodation costs. We also encourage out-of-town students to contact their local tribal organization for further support.
Note: Students from outside of Juneau are not required to attend the spruce-root gathering in Juneau in May, however they are required to gather the amount of spruce roots needed for the classes with Delores Churchill. A small stipend may be awarded for out-of-town students to work with a local artist to gather and prepare roots.
Delores Churchill is a Haida master weaver of baskets, hats, robes, and other regalia. Churchill learned these skills from her mother, Selina Peratrovich, a nationally recognized master weaver. Churchill is recognized as a leading artist and teacher of basketry and is a long-time instructor at the University of Alaska Southeast. She has work exhibited in museums throughout the United States, Germany and Canada, and has completed apprenticeships and training in Haida, Tsimshian, Tlingit, Aleut and Athabascan basketry as well as the study of Northwest Coast design and Chilkat weaving.
Janice Criswell’s extended family is full of artists. Her maternal grandmother was a Kaigani Haida weaver. Her grandfather was a noted carver and metalsmith Her great-aunt, with whom she shares the Tlingit name S.x'awaan, was a weaver or the Kiks.adi clan. Criswell is an accomplished weaver, a weaving instructor, and a visual artist who creates multimedia pieces. Criswell has taught basketry classes at the University of Alaska Southeast and worked at the Alaska State Museum with interns studying Native basketry and its conservation.
Mary Lou King is a long-time advocate and supporter of NWC arts who has helped facilitate, organize and support several opportunities for education in spruce root weaving over the years. She has gathered and prepared many roots.
The process of gathering, preparing and weaving spruce roots is one of the most complex and labor intensive processes of basketry weaving in the Southeast Alaska Native traditions. However, spruce root baskets are considered some of the most aesthetically pleasing baskets that employ the two-strand twining method. Spruce roots are gathered in the spring and fall and target young root growth. Processing the roots involves removing bark, scraping, soaking, straightening, and splitting the roots. Traditionally and today, the baskets are decorated with striking geometric designs in rich shades of yellow, orange, red, and brown.
In August 2015, a gathering of 27 Northwest Coast (NWC) artists met to advise SHI on arts programming and on how to strengthen NWC arts in the region. The gathering helped identify endangered NWC art forms, of which spruce root weaving ranked as one of the top priorities. The artists advised SHI to seek out Northwest Coast artists who are already skilled in related art forms and, with some further experience and training, could pass on the knowledge to future generations.
The spruce root mentor-apprenticeship is provided by Sealaska Heritage Institute, and supported, in part, by Juneau Arts & Humanities Council, the Alaska State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and a private foundation.
For any further questions, please contact Davina Cole at email@example.com or (907)586-9230.
Gunalchéesh, Háw'aa, T’oyaxsn, Thank you,