I love our people, I love the process of connecting my heart, my designs, and my feelings into each piece I create, share, and connect. My research explores metalsmithing as a subject and object, engaging the field’s history, methods, and outcomes while exploring indigenous native techniques that provoke new conversations. We are Here. We are interconnected.—Wanesia Misquadace

December 15, 2017
The Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts is hosted Wanesia Misquadace in a Creating Side-By-Side artist residency, which culminated in a public intergenerational evening of learning and making.

Wanesia Misquadace is from the Fond Du Lac Ojibway band of the Minnesota Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe. She is currently the head of the Metals Program at Arizona State University where she teaches jewelry and Indigenous Arts. Misquadace is a master at the art of birch bark biting—a centuries-old art form of incising, with one’s teeth, patterns and scenes into the surface of birch tree bark. Historically practiced by women, birch bark biting is a way for images, stories, and patterns to be passed on through generations. Once a threatened art form, birch bark biting is entering a period of resurgence led by passionate, committed, and innovative women artists such as Wanesia Misquadace.

Misquadace’s art mixes the contemporary and traditional. Her work includes jewelry, dresses, birch bark containers, quillwork, and storytelling; all rooted in her heritage and with a strong sense of exploration. Miquadace’s work with birch bark incorporates this versatile material into jewelry, fashion, functional objects, and two-dimensional artworks.

At this event, Misquadace led the public through her process of artmaking as she shared her own work and introduced selections from the Coe Center’s collection of birch bark as comparison. The evening concluded with a hands-on experience with attendees making their own birch bark-biting piece.

This project is supported in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment for the Arts.