By Anong Beam and Patricia Ningewance
"Gawiin Anishaa Ndizhichigesii" (I'm Not Doing This in Vain) an exhibit of the work of Patricia Ningewance by the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation October 20, 2017 - January 15, 2018
The textile art of Patricia Ningewance deserves a special title, and like the word "Manidoomin" is an animate verb to describe the "spirit berries" used in bead work, perhaps "Manidoo Waubwun" might be close. These truly are spirit blankets, viewed from a distance they come alive, in photographs the viewer is hard pressed to tell if it is a painting or some other representation of nature and story. Up close your eye is taken in with the detail and use of various materials to create these textured portraits. Using materials that have long been in the use of traditional Anishinaabek crafts people and women, she has taken them and celebrated their shapes and textures in new ways. It has been a pleasure to have these works join us at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, we are grateful to be their home for this time.
Anong Migwans Beam
Ojibwe Cultural Foundation
Patricia Ningewance at her art opening at OCF October 20, 2017
My media includes both acrylic painting and textiles. In my textile work, I use pieces of quilts or solid color fabric as the background and sew on smaller cut pieces. I add ribbons and buttons, and I finish with embroidery and beadwork. Sometimes, I use parts of actual quilts as a starting point because I was inspired to create this artwork from my memories of quilts. My subject matter includes landscapes, portraits, animals, Ojibwe spiritual themes and abstracts. Before turning to textile, I explored acrylic paint on canvas. The subject matter is the same. I apply the colors next to each other. I experiment until I arrive at what I wanted. The dots and dabs of contrasting color paint evoke vitality.
I work with contrasting colors next to each other so that a piece comes to life. I use finely printed fabrics to suggest texture. The added buttons and beadwork make it dance. The Ojibwe word for bead is “manidoomin” which means “spirit berry”. In Ojibwe grammar, there are inanimate and animate nouns and corresponding verbs. Instead of grammatical gender, we Ojibwes have these two classes’ nouns. Manidoomin is an animate noun. So we talk about beads as if they are alive. Previously, beads were just inanimate things that I worked with. Now I feel that I work and interact with them as fellow beings. I am a participant. In this fashion, I depict my own struggle to learn spirituality in today’s world. My own belief is that all life inter-connected and that there is continuity of life no matter where – on this planet and elsewhere.
Lately, I have begun using seashell beads and buttons. I work with them because shells have long been used as jewelry and currency by my people. My own ancestry is mainly Ojibwe and Dakota.