Nearly 40 years I’ve been a multi-tasking artist, mother, partner, etc.; in order to accomplish the variety of tasks I set for myself (being that kind of intense, goal-oriented kind of personality), I had a college-ruled, spiral bound notebook for every aspect of my daily, weekly, monthly activities. Each notebook was dedicated to recording all the dates and necessary information to accomplish goals in each of these categories:
I had no idea there were such things as daily planners until about 10 years ago…! Like where in the heck was I raised!?
I eliminated usage of spiral bound notebooks; I like keeping all my information in one compact place. I refer to my daily planner periodically all day long, seven days a week. I ordered this Franklin Covey daily planner, brand spanking new from Ebay for only $25 which retails at about $70. I scored. For a personality like mine, a daily planner is a must for all I plan on accomplishing.
Of course, I plan the week with standard Franklin Covey sheets (shown above). Then there’s the daily routine of “chores” which I check off daily in my custom-designed printed columns (shown below) by my daughter, Ursala Hudson. I indicate phonecalls, emails and texts I must place for the day or week, along with any blog post ideas and/or updates, record the number of hours I weave or number of hours sewing a buttonrobe, contact information for a supplier or appointments at the docs or dates with the family and/or friends. The most pleasurable act of keeping track of my goals is checking off the box when I complete each task! Yep, that simple act of defining an accomplishment!
I have used this antique clothes drying rack to hold prepared wool for nearly 20 years. It’s collapsible, easy to store, lightweight yet sturdy. I prepare all my wool and cedar bark before I begin spinning the Chilkat warp needed for a robe. This type of rack comes in very handy. It has many “spokes” to the wheel that stem out from the center as shown in the photo above, so I can prepare enough wool for at least 600 yards of warp.
My children’s paternal grandmother celebrated her 90th birthday this past Sunday on May 17th with her 2 children, 6 grand children and 8 great-grandchildren. For her birthday present, I sewed up Alaskan-inspired aprons.
10 years ago I had bought $600 worth of fabrics for a large wall mural that I was supposed to create for the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, but they re-nigged on the project so all the fabrics hung out in my attic until most recently. Out of the collection I chose a few fabrics with colors of the Alaskan landscape, particularly the blue-berries!
The sizes of aprons ranged to fit people who were 4, 6, 9 and 16-month to 3 and 5-year old and two 7-year-olds and of course one for Great Grandma Shirley! Though I was on a time crunch with all my other projects and business, I had such a blast during the making of these aprons! I am reminded once again how much I love to sew for those I love and I get a kick in the pants dressing up people, whether for a birthday party, wedding or a traditional Native ceremony!
Two years ago, when I heard through the grapevine that Sealaska Heritage Institute was planning on building a cultural center where the old Juneau Lyle’s Hardware once was, I thought of a couple of artist buddies of mine who I felt needed to be represented in the new structure. So I called up Preston and said he needed to get his foot in the door and make sure SHI has a monumental piece of his work. He asked what I had in mind. I asked him what would it take to construct a life-size, glass house screen front. He chuckled and said that the Seattle Art Museum’s house front was as large as he thought he could do. I said I thought it needed to be larger; he laughed again. He agreed that he would check out the engineering logistics with his production crew: could it be done? After some research with his production and installation teams, the answer was yes!
We spent a week or two drafting up a proposal for SHI; it would be a collaborative project since I’ve had some experience in glass work with Preston years prior and I am a fairly good designer (with always room for more improvement!); Preston and I felt pretty good about submitting the concept. A few months later, though both of us submitted the proposal as a team, he received a letter addressed only to him from SHI stating they liked the concept though they did not want my design concept. We both thought it weird that SHI made no statement about “working with Clarissa” on what design they wanted on the house front instead. They simply stated they didn’t want my design (which I interpret as my name) being associated with the glass front. After reading the letter a couple of times, I knew what “they” were up to. I knew “they” didn’t want me in the picture; they wanted a close relative instead, and I had an inkling who that particular relative was.
Preston asked me if I felt okay about him going ahead on his own instead of the initial teamwork we had planned. I told him that initially I wanted him to have a piece of his work represented in the cultural center, so even though he could have told SHI that we were working as a team, I told him to go on without me because I knew that SHI would come up with whatever reasons to not have my name associated with any monumental art in the cultural center, and I wanted to avoid any further denials.
About a year later in the Fall of 2014, SHI sent out an announcement requesting apprentices to work with Preston on the glass panel. Of course, I did not apply. I knew SHI already had the person(s) selected, one of them being the young relative to SHI’s president. The call for apprentices was the legal procedure they had to endure. Preston was given no say who his apprentices would be though he was very happy Nicholas Galanin was “chosen.”
You, the reader, may interpret this blog entry as a bitter response to being edged out. You may also think that I write about these kinds of sensitive issues on my blog or elsewhere. Not so. This may be the first time (and most likely not the last) I have written about an unjust act on my blog. I may speak about unpleasant injustice or opinions to others face to face, but I am not one to write about injustice, especially in an art blog. However, I have made an exception because I realize I made a mistake in the course of this story. There is no one else to blame about not being “included.” When SHI “edged me out” of the art project, and I had told Preston to go on without me; I was not honoring myself as a one-of-a-kind, female, Tlingit, full-time artist of nearly 40 years. I made a big mistake. There’s no other Tlingit or any other female artist out of all the Northwest Coast tribes, who lives now or lived before my time, who has ever accomplished all that I have designed and created in a variety of works. I realized that even now there is no other Native female artist from Alaska who comes close to my caliber of artistry. As the elder from the western TV film series would say: “…no brag, just fact…” How am I to be honored by others if I am not loyal to myself?
This particular story is a big lesson to myself. My mother always said I was too generous with others and that I always “sell myself short” and when people recognize this, there will always be those who take advantage of people like me without intention of giving back. This concept did not ride home to me until I saw a few photos of the making of this art installation on Facebook. I felt a ton of bricks crashing into the core of my being. I was depressed for a few days; I let myself down, but I looked within myself for my answers.
So why do I tell this story here? It’s for me. First, this story is to remind myself of how I have been all my life; it is to remind myself to forgive myself for not honoring myself, not being loyal to who I am and what I do and what I have become and continue in my human becoming. Second, I tend to forgive and forget, even this is a lesson I must learn and retain, else I repeat the same pattern, going through the school of hard knocks and never earning any credits. Why do we need to acknowledge and earn our credits? So we can “graduate!” Hello!? — I have always said “Patience Is Worth Waiting For” and this definitely applies to the patience any of us need as we continue to “grow up!”
Though this was a big lesson to go through regarding this project, I bear no hard feelings towards SHI nor Preston. Like anyone else, they have nothing to do with my self-worth. I had a wake-up call about my lack of self-respect, loyalty to self with honor. Although SHI has hired me to do small projects like book covers, I have known for awhile where I stand with SHI regarding large projects whether they benefit me and/or others; I have learned to work around them because I just want my ideas put out there and get done. AND, I am proud of my friend Preston and his great piece of work. The inclusion of his work was my initial idea; my friend is now represented in the art collection of Sealaska. What more can I ask for? I helped him get there, and I can pat myself on the back for this!
Read more about the details of this art installation online at the Juneau Empire:
A couple of years ago, I wanted to make some button robes, but I didn’t feel like designing them. I guess I was just feeling lazy! So I did what I’ve never done before – I asked another artist for designs! I called up my friend Preston Singletary and asked him if he had any designs on hand that were suitable for button robes. He sent me two; one of the robes is now owned by Crystal Rogers Nelson and the other one is this one: Raven. Made with black and red wool melton cloth and some of the thousands of antique mother-of-pearl buttons I have been collecting for a good 25 years. Little does Preston know that we are 2 of 11 Native American artists invited to submit something for an exhibit that is traveling Russia for over a year.
“Woven Together” is an exhibit intended to share a small part of Native American culture with Russians in the Urals. This will likely be the first exposure to Native American culture for many who visit the exhibit. Typically, the Consulate supports such artistic exchanges in order to encourage contact between Russians and Americans and to promote interest in the diverse people that inhabit the U.S.
The exhibit will travel to three cities in Russia – Yekaterinburg, Orenburg and Surgut. In all three cities there will be opportunities to show objects in display cases as well as on the walls.
Yekaterinburg is an industrial city and the capital of the Urals. Previously, they have hosted an exhibit of Native American photography.
Orenburg is a remote city in the south of the Urals that is simply interested in learning more about other cultures. This will be their first time hosting an exhibit the American consulate and they are very enthusiastic.
Surgut is a city located in a region that is home to the Khanti and Mansi peoples. The region is committed to preserving and honoring the cultural heritage and traditions of the Khanti and Mani peoples, and they are particularly interested in the Woven Together exhibit to learn more about Native peoples in the U.S.
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