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On the Artful Path: Potlatch Dress

Among the many historical objects and belongings displayed in MOA’s Multiversity Galleries are a wide range of contemporary artworks, often purchased or commissioned directly from the artists themselves, and sometimes donated by artists or collectors. Much dynamic new work is being done by Indigenous women artists who are relearning and remixing women’s practices of the past to reflect on contemporary contexts for cultural reclamation, artistic freedom and building community.

These works speak to the individual experiences of these women and the powerful ways they are making sense of the world through their art and their ancestral knowledge. The next time you visit MOA, be sure to look for some of these unique and memorable works.

Potlatch Dress, by t’at’miye, Danielle Morsette (2019)

Suquamish and Sto:lo artist t’at’miye, Danielle Morsette, weaves to connect with her ancestors—but also because she enjoys it and loves to see people proudly wearing her dresses. This tunic-like dress is made of woven cedar bark with a full-length wool panel on the front. Dresses like this are worn during potlatch ceremonies, the traditional Pacific Northwest Coast gatherings that mark important events. Making handwoven regalia can take weeks of intensive work. A woman of her time, Danielle balances her practice between respecting her family legacy and embracing her own contemporary vision.

Find Me: Case 028, or on MOA’s Collections Online. Photo by Heidi Swierenga.