Welcome to the heart of Abenaki creativity. Here, you have the power to choose your artistic journey, exploring the diverse expressions of our talented Abenaki artists. Select your path below and uncover the rich heritage embedded in each masterpiece:
1. Alphabetical Showcase: Embark on a journey through the names of our remarkable artists. This path connects you with the individuals behind the art, inviting you to discover their unique stories and inspirations.
2.Art by Medium: Immerse yourself in the magic of different artistic mediums – quillwork, wampum, paintings, and more. Each medium reflects a distinct facet of Abenaki creativity, transporting you into the heart of our culture.
3.Artist Memorial Pages: Pay homage to the artists who have left a lasting imprint on our community and culture. Through these memorial pages, we remember and celebrate their contributions, ensuring their artistic spirits remain alive in our hearts.
Your choice, your journey. Whichever path you choose, you’re engaging with the living legacy of the Abenaki people, a legacy that bridges the gap between tradition and innovation. Each brushstroke, beadwork, and creation tells a story – a story that becomes richer with every step you take.
The impact of COVID-19 has been felt all over N’dakinna (our homeland) for over three years. Now we have an opportunity for Native American visual and performing artists to create and share artwork that expresses their response to the pandemic experience.
We are looking for Abenaki or Native American artists, musicians, and community members who can help to express the impact of this pandemic on ourselves, our families and community, through visual or performing arts, or simply sharing stories of personal experience and perceptions about the the COVID-19 global pandemic, vaccines, disparities, and access.
We are defining artwork in its broadest form. All artistic mediums are welcome. Paintings, collage, mixed media, carving, sculpture, fiber, weaving, pottery, poetry, photography, music, storytelling, dance, video…
The stories and artwork will be shared in an online exhibit about our experiences and will be considered for possible inclusion in a museum exhibit and educational materials.
Eligible Native American artists will submit artwork by December 31, 2022, with an artist statement that explains the artwork, and a brief intake form.
December 5, 2022 – We are so honored that Abenaki and other Native American Families are trusting us with their family stories about vaccines, disparity, and access issues they are experiencing. During storytelling sessions, we provide participants with many different types of art materials to help them express themselves. Here is an example of a process drawing that was created during a storytelling session. What do you see when you look at it?
We are looking for Abenaki or Native American artists, musicians, and community members to help express the impact of this pandemic ourselves and our local community through visual or performing arts, share stories of personal experience and perceptions about the COVID-19 global pandemic, vaccines, disparities, and access.
All artistic media are welcome: painting, collage, mixed media, carving, sculpture, fiber, weaving, pottery, poetry, photography, music, storytelling, dance, video, & more . . .
Contact Us! If you are interested in submitting work or would like more information, email [email protected] or call (802) 265-0092.
November 15, 2022 – We are grateful to everyone who is participating in the Abenaki Storytelling Project. We’ve spent months collecting stories and artwork about the Native American COVID experience in Vermont. The stories are like legos that come in different sizes and shapes.
October 20, 2022 – Our team attended the Mending Ourselves, Together conference at the UVM Davis Center, Burlington and we share our community initiative with healthcare professionals interested in health equity.
August 19 – 20, 2022 – We set up a memory booth at the Nulhegan Heritage Gathering, Camp Sunrise Cub Scouting Camp. Community members created artwork and shared their COVID memories.
October 1, 2022 – Visit the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association’s Storytelling booth at the Indigenous People’s Day Rocks event in Stowe on October 8th. Mayo Farm Fields, Stowe, VT.
August 3, 2022 – We are excited to announce we will be gathering stories and artwork about the Native American COVID experience in Vermont at the Nulhegan Abenaki Gathering at Camp Sunrise Cub Scouting Camp. Stop by our booth and tell us your story. Artwork and stories will inform an upcoming traveling museum and digital exhibition.
July 15, 2020 – Are there incentives for participating in the Abenaki COVID-19 Storytelling Project Memory Booth? Recently, we were asked if there are any incentives for participating in Abenaki COVID-19 Storytelling Project Memory Booth. Individuals who participate in the Memory Booth may select their choice of either an I support the Abenaki t-shirt or an insulated drink cup. There are monetary incentives available for one-on-one storytelling or focus group storytelling sessions.
June 20, 2022
VAAA’s Executive Director Vera Longtoe Sheehan did a presentation about the Abenaki COVID-19 Storytelling Project at the annual at Abenaki Heritage Weekend, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT. After the presentation, people flocked over to the Memory Booth seeking more information. We collected stories and artwork from more than 18 Native American people!
June 13, 2022
The VAAA Storytelling Project will be hosting a Memory Booth at various community events around N’Dakinna (our homeland). The Memory Booth is a place where Abenaki people can create artwork and tell their stories to promote health and wellness. This year, we are processing our thoughts and feelings about the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines, disparities, and access. VAAA will have a Memory Booth set up at our annual Abenaki Heritage Weekend on June 18-19, 2022. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.
Like everyone else in the world, the Abenaki community has been greatly affected by the global pandemic and the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association is no exception. VAAA’s Abenaki Storytelling project will “allow us to explore this period of our history in a way that hasn’t been done before. Abenakis will tell and interpret their own experience about the pandemic and vaccination intake,” says VAAA Executive Director Vera Longtoe Sheehan.
We are excited to share the logo for our banners and website.
May 15, 2022
What is the Abenaki Storytelling Project?
The Abenaki Storytelling Project is a community-based arts and storytelling project that focuses on Native American strength and resiliency. The project is led by Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA), a Native American arts organization that serves the public by connecting them to Abenaki educators and artists from the visual, performing, and literary arts. VAAA has special expertise in working with Abenaki artists and incorporating their arts and storytelling into public programs, cultural events, and museum exhibitions. VAAA uses insights from Native American arts and storytelling to uplift Abenaki voices and perspectives in the interpretation of museum exhibitions, education resources, and in health equity.
Traditional arts are listed on the left of the page and contemporary artforms are listed on the right side. They are listed by media.
Artists are organized by media and skill level*.
See definitions of skill levels below.
Click on the artist’s name to view their profiles, images of their art, artist bios, and artist statements.
*ARTIST SKILL LEVELS*
MCB = Master Culture Bearers have a superior skill level, mentor emerging artists, exhibit their artwork internationally, and have received awards for their artwork or work with and for the community.
M = Master Artists have practiced their craft for at least 10 years are familiar with the history of their art form. They have exhibited their work, offer workshops and lectures.
J = Journey Person have practiced and sold their craft for at least 5 years.
Crafts-person (C) = Craftspeople are can either be self-taught or had some lessons but they are not doing an apprenticeship with a Master Artist. They do not have the technical expertise to be considered for the Journeyman or Master Artist categories.
A = Apprentices are in the process of learning their craft.
Thank you for your interest in applying to be a juried artisan with the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA). Our mission is to promote Vermont’s Indigenous arts and artists, to provide an organized central place to share creative ideas; professional development; and a have a method for the public to find and engage Abenaki artists.
How to request a VAAA application? Email [email protected] to request an application form. Please provide your name, contact information, Abenaki Tribal affiliation, and Tribal ID number. After your status as a citizen in a state-recognized Abenaki tribe is confirmed, we will send you an application packet with more details and directions.
Please prepare to have good-quality photos of your craft/art, an artist statement, and biographical information about yourself as an artist, such as how you learned what you do and where you may have exhibited it.
Who is responsible for jurying new VAAA artists? The VAAA jury is comprised of four artists, one from each recognized Abenaki Tribe. Two have degrees in fine art, and two are traditional artists. Master Artists and Consultants are also called upon to help jury art within their area of expertise. When a VAAA artist applies to be juried or is nominated for an award, they must recuse themselves from voting, and a consultant is appointed in their place.
How can I apply to be rejuried into a new category or artistry group? Submit a letter describing your request with 3 to 5 high-resolution images of your work and an updated artist statement. Email your request to [email protected]
The LAW award is only available after a thirty-year track record of success as an artist who willingly gives back to the community and has been a mentor to many others. This award is only available by nomination and nomination does not guarantee an award. To date, only one has been presented. The first LAW was awarded in 2014.
Past Lifetime Achievement Award Winners
Dr. Fred Wiseman – 2014
At the first Vermont Abenaki Artists Association Awards ceremony at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Professor Fred Wiseman was surprised during his filming of the event by being asked to come to the stage from behind the camera. Dr. Wiseman, of Swanton, Vermont, who is retiring from Johnson State College at the end of July, was surprised with a certificate of Lifetime Achievement and the VAAA T-shirt that he had been trying to buy for two days, but with no success.
The Award was presented by his mentoree and VAAA board member Jessee Lawyer of Burlington, VT, with other board members Vera Longtoe Sheehan, of Westminster, VT and Jeanne Kent of Winstead, CT, looking on. The award was not specifically for his achievement in promoting the decorative and performing arts, such as fashion design, wampum (shell bead) art, Indigenous song, dance and oratory, but in his advocacy for recognition by the state of Vermont that its indigenous peoples and their artistic heritage has always been here and needed to be recognized by the state. It was this recognition that permitted Abenaki artists, for the first time to legally sell their creations as Indian art under the Federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act.
The Board members and Dr. Wiseman shared some memories of working together as long ago as the mid-1990’s, and their continuing endeavors to assure that Vermont’s Indigenous arts heritage will never disappear. Koasek Abenaki Tribe citizen Cheryl O’Neil, who was at the ceremony, said “it was an amazing event to see Dr Wiseman with some of his oldest friends and former students sharing their joy in the fruits of his more than thirty year of supporting Abenaki culture and history. It was a well-deserved treat for all of us at the Maritime Museum.”
Artist of the Year
Beginning in 2020, as a fan-determined contest to celebrate VAAA artists and promote economic development during the holiday season, the Artist of the Year Award was started. It is also used to publicly thank artists who participated in exhibits during that calendar year. The nominees must be juried members of VAAA for at least one year. Groups are not eligible.
Past Artists of the Year
2020 Amy Hook-Therrien
Amy is a native Vermonter, originally from Chelsea, she grew up nestled on top of a hill overlooking the valleys below. She was surrounded by nature and beauty. She graduated from Randolph Union High School with a passion for art. She went on to college at the University of Maine in Orono majoring in fine art with a focus in sculpture and painting. After graduating with a BFA from UMaine she moved back to Vermont and she and her husband bought a house in Windsor. When she is not creating art Amy loves to travel, hike, garden, and spend time with her family.