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Kelly Church (Odawa & Pottawatomi, Gun Lake Band). Sustaining Traditions—Digital Memories, 2018. Black ash, sweetgrass, Rit dye, copper, vial EAB, and flash drive with black ash teachings. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Richard Church, Odawa & Pottawatomi. © Kelly Church

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Courtesy of Cherish Parrish, Odawa & Pottawatomi, Gun Lake Band. Photo by Richard Church, Odawa & Pottawatomi. © Cherish Parrish

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Courtesy of Kelly Church, Odawa & Pottawatomi, Gun Lake Band. Photo by Richard Church, Odawa & Pottawatomi. © Kelly Church

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Courtesy of Cherish Parrish, Odawa & Pottawatomi, Gun Lake Band. Photo by Richard Church, Odawa & Pottawatomi. © Cherish Parrish

An Interwoven Legacy: The Black Ash Basketry of Kelly Church and Cherish Parrish

Coming in 2021

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Please note: Due to COVID-19 and other related circumstances, the Museum has decided to postpone An Interwoven Legacy: The Black Ash Basketry of Kelly Church and Cherish Parrish, previously scheduled to open on December 5, 2020. Our team is working with the artists to determine new dates for the exhibition, and we will provide updates via our regular communication channels. We look forward to presenting the exhibition in 2021 and appreciate your understanding.

Artists Kelly Church and Cherish Parrish both practice and expand the centuries-old Anishinabe tradition of black ash basketry. Church (b. 1967) and Parrish (b. 1989) are members of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band (Gun Lake Tribe). For their Michigan Artist Series exhibition at GRAM, this nationally acclaimed mother and daughter have created more than twenty new works, individually and collaboratively. Some of these are traditional baskets, while others are woven works of art that draw on Native history and storytelling to make striking parallels to universal issues and current events. The exhibition will include documentary elements illustrating the strenuous process of harvesting black ash trees and preparing the splints for basketmaking, as well as stories and background information from Church and Parrish about the works on view. For those unable to view the exhibition in person, there will be digital resources on GRAM’s website including installation images, photographs, and texts.

An Interwoven Legacy: The Black Ash Basketry of Kelly Church and Cherish Parrish also foregrounds the two artists’ other primary motivations: the importance of maintaining the basketmaking tradition within their culture and their advocacy for the black ash tree’s survival, which is being decimated by an invasive insect. These issues are critically important for people whose cultural survival depends on passing traditions on to the next generations, whether through language, ceremonies, or practices like basketry.

Church, Parrish, and their extended family come from an unbroken line of Black Ash basket makers. The Anishinabe originally made baskets purely for utility, weaving them in various sizes for carrying, collecting, and storing. As broader appreciation for Native baskets developed, the pairs’ ancestors began creating so-called “fancy” or decorative baskets as a way to bolster the tribal economy. Church and Parrish draw on these traditions and practices and also create more topical and experimental works. This exhibition powerfully demonstrates both their astonishing artistry and their urgent advocacy on behalf of Native traditions.

Support for GRAM’s Michigan Artist Series is generously provided by:

Beusse & Porter Family Foundation
Barnes & Thornburg LLP
The Jury Foundation
Progressive AE
Janet and Mark Nisbett

Additional exhibition support is provided by:

Wege Foundation
Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs
National Endowment for the Arts
Ken Betz and Pat Brewer
James and Mary Nelson
Greg and Meg Willit
Janet Gatherer Boyles and John Boyles
brightly
Robert Daverman, AIA / Grand Rapids Community Foundation
Eenhoorn, LLC.
Dr. Ronald and Mrs. Dawn Ford / Elite Plastic Surgery
Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith, P.C.
Jeff Gurney and Xuesi Li Gurney
Haworth, Inc.
Kurt and Madelon Hassberger
Dirk and June Hoffius
Lizbeth S. O’Shaughnessy and Terry Rathbun
Donald and Ann Kelley
Susan and Jack Smith
Dorothy Williamson
Dr. Sandra and Mr. Warren Rempel
Frank and Sharon Van Haven
Phillip and Julie Croll
Stephanie Naito
Jane Timmer

Lead Exhibition Society Sponsor:

Additional funding provided by the GRAM Exhibition Society. Listing as of print date.

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