Fall/Winter 2006 Issue: Volume 5, Issue 1
Kelly Church is an enrolled member of her grandmother’s tribe, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa Chippewa Indians from Michigan. She studies and teaches both the oral tradition stories of the past, and her native Algonquin language because she feels it is important for the youth to learn and pass on the stories and the language before it is too late. Kelly incorporates the stories into her paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculpture, to help teach and preserve the culture through her work. She wants to teach non-natives about today’s Native Americans—about the diversity of tribes and cultures—so that she can help dispel misleading Hollywood images by showing the many faces of Native people today. Ultimately, she teaches that Native people are survivors…and that we can all make a difference in ensuring better days ahead.
Three Sisters represents the artist and two friends. The blue figure represents a woman who is enrolled in the Cherokee tribe of Oklahoma. The raven represents a trickster figure, which is her style of work. The cream figure is from the Tohono’odom tribe in Arizona and the imagery on this figure represents her style of work. The red figure represents the artist. The woodland style of painting is characteristic of the artist’s work. Together, this painting represents the differences and similarities that exist between these three Native artists. Although they differ in many ways, they are the same in that they are each Native women, they are each artists, and each of their tribes has the shared story of the “Three Sisters;” a story about the staples of corn, beans, and squash.
For more information about the artist, please visit www.blackash.org/kelly/.