Massett artists look to visit city museums

  • Jul. 23, 2008 12:00 p.m.

A group of naaniis and jaadaas (grannies and girls) are raising money for a visit to two American museums. Lucille Bell of Old Massett says 12 women artists, ranging in age from 19 to 86, want to go look at old Haida pieces for inspiration and then return home and create some art together. The National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. has 1,300 Haida pieces, she says. The group also intends to visit the Natural History Museum in New York, which holds, among other treasures, a Haida canoe collected in 1883. The group of women includes weavers and carvers, some of whom are just starting to get involved in making art. “A lot of times women’s art isn’t celebrated enough,” Ms Bell said. Ms Bell has several contacts at the museums thanks to the repatriation committee’s efforts over the years. The museums are excited to have people come, she said and while visiting, some of the artists will probably offer demonstrations too. Many of the artists who are going have been very generous to the repatriation cause over the years, she said. The trip will be partially funded by Gwaii Trust, but other dollars are needed. The group has been holding huckleberry pancake breakfasts, pie and coffee sales and raffles to help raise money for travel and supplies. Ms Bell said one of the weavers is inspired by a gigantic hat at the museum in Washington. It’s a twined hat, around five feet in diameter that was collected in Massett, she said, although the designs don’t look typical to here. She said the weavers can tell just by looking at a piece where it comes from, because each group has their own style. “Whether it’s Haida or not, we’ll find out,” she says.