Enrolled Citizen of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation
Juried Artist since 2016
John Hunt grew up in the farm country of Vermont. When he was young, his father would tell him about his native heritage and about how their ancestors had lived. John enjoyed imaging how it was long, long ago as well as how his grandfathers lived more recently. He saw how life used to be made up of your own two hands. Whether it was tools needed for farming or hunting or things you would need around the house like bowls and baskets it all had to be made by someone’s skilled hands.
This inspired John to have a relationship to life like his family had always had. To know how to make what he needed from the land around him. When he looked back at many of the tools of our ancestors, he saw they were created not only to be functional but beautiful as well. He was inspired by that way of being and has chosen to live his life in that way. Though he has tried and practiced many art forms, he has focused most on carving, basketry, and pyrography.
I have been creating art since I was a child, but since the age of 18, it has become a very strong focus in my life. Though I have never had one primary teacher, I have learned through many people over the years as well as through my own personal practice.
Carving: For my carving, I use many types of wood. For kitchen utensils, I like to use a hardwood like black walnut,
black cherry, apple, maple, etc. and for more figure/ sculpture carving I use soft woods like white pine or cedar.
Basketmaking: My family members were basket makers that sold their wares around northern VT. However, there is no longer anyone in my direct family practicing this art, so I have sought out many different teachers over the years. Though I haven’t formally studied with anyone, I have spent time with many different basket makers around Vermont. I primarily make bark and willow baskets. For the willow, I gather from a few locations by my home that grows nice long rods, and I tend these patches. For my bark baskets, I prefer pine, and I keep my eye out for trees that have fallen over during the winter and peel their bark in the spring.
To create my art, I use modern hand tools. However, I gather all of my materials from the natural world. My art is an expressive outlet for me and a connection to my ancestors. I really enjoy making things that have a function as a spoon but going beyond function and giving it a unique beauty. I find inspiration for my crafts in nature around me. I try to have my crafts showcase and lead to the innate majesty of the plants, animals, and elements.
Pyrography: Over the last several years, I have studied traditional Wabanaki designs and the images I see in nature. From these studies, I create my designs. I grow the gourds that I use and gather soft woods for my pyrography.
Enrolled Citizen of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation
Juried Artist since 2013
Jeanne Kent was named Spozowialakws (Morningstar) by an Abenaki Elder many years ago. It means: “One who leads others out of the darkness into the light…a teacher.”
She is an enrolled citizen of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation of Vermont, and also descended from Nipissing, Montagnais, and Algonquin People from the Quebec area of Canada. Her father was French and Indian; her mother was German. Her art work contains Native American symbols and designs of the Northeast Woodland People with a focus on the Wabanaki group. Her medium is gourd art. Currently, she is working on a series of gourd designs which she hopes will provide a visual language for the woodland people.
“There is something wonderful about putting one’s hands into the soil to plant the seed, nurturing it until the blossoms form, then protecting them until they develop into natural canvases upon which to work my art, ” she said. “Working with gourds is a combination of my art and heritage bound together in a spiritual journey with Mother Earth.”
She has received both state and national awards and participated in one man shows, and group shows through out CT, NY, NH, and MA. Her work has sold internationally via her website. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree and a Master in Art Education from the University of Hartford. Additional courses were taken at Johnson College, VT; Smith College, MA; Trinity College and Yale Campuses, CT, and the Woodstock School of Art, NY. She taught art in public schools for twenty years transversing levels from kindergarten to college. As teacher and artist, she has given in-services on Native crafts and history, to educators, acted as a mentor for student teachers, and offered courses at the University of Hartford Extension Service.
Morningstar serves as an interpreter at the Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington, CT, where she has also lectured and given workshops. One of her gourd rattles is part of their permanent collection. Other permanent collections containing her work are the Chimney Point Museum (VT) and the Roger Williams University (RI). Many pieces are in private collections.
“I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil,” she said. “Once I made a mark, I never stopped experimenting.”
Her work has been shown at the Millbrook Gallery and Sculpture Garden (NH), the Artworks Gallery, (CT), McDaniels-Wiley Gallery, (CT), the Gallows Book Store and Gallery at Trinity College(CT) and the Bushnell Theater Gallery (CT). She was invited to participate in an invitational group show in Boxboro (MA) at the New England Native American Institute which hosted the show: “Walking Between Two Worlds.” She currently shows her work at the Autumn Light Gallery in Avon, CT.
She recently offered lectures and workshops at the Institute for Native American Studies, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, the University of Connecticut, the Naugatuck Community College, the ECHO Maritime Museum (VT) and numerous social groups.
Affiliations include the Institute for American Indian Studies, (CT), the American Gourd Society, the Northwest Connecticut Arts Council, and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and the French Genealogy Library (CT).
“Although I am continuously walking between two worlds, I consider myself fortunate for having found a balance between my ancestral cultures.”
Presenter: Ward Hertmann House Museum, Savin Rock, West Haven,
CT Village Docent, Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington
Open Your Eyes, Studio Tour, Litchfield, CT
Presenter at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, Ledyard, CT. University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT B.F.A. and M.A., Ed.
Additional Coursework: Johnson State College, VT
Smith College, Amherst, MA
Northwest Community College, Winsted, CT
Woodstock School of Art, Woodstock, NY
School of Fine Arts and Theater, NY, NY
Article: Indigenous Arts, Cultural Survival Quarterly
Chimney Point Museum, VT
ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center , Burlington, VT
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Show
VT Indigenous Celebration, Burlington, VT
Hammonassett Indian Festivals
2O12 Native Arts Grant. New England Foundation for the Arts.
Author of “The Visual Language of Wabanaki Arts”, published by History/Acadia Press, which discusses history and meanings of some of the designs used by the Wabanaki people.
Kent, Jeanne. Gourds: Seeds of Inspiration, Jeanne Kent publication, Winsted, CT (out of print)
Lavin, Lucienne, Connecticut’s Indigenous Peoples: What Archaeology, History, and Oral Traditions Teach Us About Their Communities and Cultures. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. 2O13.
Photos of my work included in “Connecticut’s Indigenous People, Their Communities and Cultures, Then and Now” by Lucienne Lavin. Published by Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and Yale Press.
Vermont Abenaki Artist Association, Committee Member
Institute for American Indian Studies, Native Advisory Board, Committee Member
American Gourd Society
Northwest Connecticut Arts Council
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