PORT ANGELES, Washington (June 2, 2017) –On June 8, Kylee Butler of the Makah Tribe will introduce “Modern Utilitarian Basketry” in a Studium Generale lecture beginning at 12:35pm, in the Little Theater at Peninsula College. A reception will follow in The House of Learning ʔaʔk̓ʷustəƞáwt̓xʷ Peninsula College Longhouse .
“Modern Utilitarian Basketry” will present baskets that are useful, that are part of our working lives, rather than decorative or ornamental. This exhibit is the culmination of a service-learning project Butler completed, working with Longhouse Coordinator Sadie Crowe, who supervised the project. During the winter and spring, Kylee taught workshops on weaving to students, staff, and the larger community. In addition, Butler was a featured guest in late April, when the Writer in Residence and Visiting Elders Project partnered to offer a lecture focused on weaving, poetry, storytelling, and sharing cultural knowledge. Elaine Grinnell, renowned storyteller and elder of the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe, and Alice Derry, faculty emerita and this year’s PC Writer in Residence, joined Butler in a thoughtful dialogue following their individual lectures. This was a poignant opportunity for students and the community to engage in an inter-generational, interdisciplinary experience that described as a “highlight of spring quarter.” Butler, who will graduate from Peninsula College in two weeks, has inspired students and faculty, staff and administrators with her knowledge of weaving and her abilities to teach art and cultural history on and beyond the PC campus.
As Butler explains, “When I made my first basket I didn’t appreciate working with cedar bark or learning this tradition. As I got older I started to appreciate it more and more. When I learned that Natives were assimilated, and basketry was one of the traditions that survived it I felt it was important for me and inspired me to continue this tradition. The more experience I had weaving and the more I thought about the traditional uses of cedar bark I understood why certain natural materials were used and I wanted to make pieces of art that serve a purpose.”
“Currently, there are many weaving materials that are used for the sake of convenience,” Butler said. “Because of that I like to balance out the convenience by doing things that are ‘inconvenient’ such as gathering and processing as much materials as I can. I do this because it’s important to me that this tradition stays alive and I enjoy my finished product so much more.”
In a discussion about her participation in the Visiting Elders Project, Butler said her work very much plays a role in preserving traditions. Basketry is one of the traditions that survived assimilation, and she believes that by doing it and passing it down, she is moving that tradition forward.
When asked what advice she would give to other artists, Butler advised practicing patience.
“I have rushed through so many projects because I just wanted to be done with it that I realized I would have liked it better if I didn’t rush and did it how I wanted,” she said. “I believe criticism can be a useful tool but it is often an abused tool so I advise to appreciate the hard work that you put into it.”
The exhibit will run through August, and summer hours for viewing the baskets in the House of Learning ʔaʔk̓ʷustəƞáwt̓xʷ Peninsula College Longhouse are Tuesday through Thursday from 10:00 am until 2:00pm. Admission is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact Sadie Crowe: firstname.lastname@example.org