Heart Berry Collaborator Feature

Waabanangokwe, Michelle Defoe

Moccasin apprentice, teacher, and Heart Berry collaborator shares about her experiences as a growing force in the art world

Heart Berry is committed to building community, opportunity, and economic sovereignty.  One of the ways we do this is by sharing our table and our small pool of knowledge and resources with local artists and aspiring teacher. Read about Michelle's experience here: 

"I started doing beadwork and other traditional arts around 12 years old. I began to dabble in painting and photography in high school. I also started to learn moccasin making, quillwork, blanket making, birch bark basket making, etc. during my young adult years. However these activities remained hobbies that I tried to sneak in between working, going to college and parenting. At some point I decided I wanted to create art for my career. It was a risky choice but well worth the transition. In the beginning I didn’t really know what I was doing."

"Sarah came into my life at this time offering me this opportunity to work on a moccasin pattern book with her as her apprentice. After I said yes to this offer I have just grown tremendously as an artist. This opportunity was pivotal in moving me from doing art as a hobby into doing it as a profession."

"Being a female artist it’s difficult sometimes to find your place in the art community. Also being an indigenous artist can prove to be even more difficult. It can be a challenge to be awarded grants or have your projects supported. We often times get turned down over and over. There is a lack of indigenous and female representation in the art community. Part of what makes working with Heart Berry such an empowering experience is that they are dedicated to working with indigenous artists"

-Waabanangokwe, Michelle Defoe, Artist, Teacher, Mama



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