Kelly Church

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Headshots of a woman.

Photo by Richard Church, Pottawatomi and Ottawa

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Audio Tabs

2018 National Heritage Fellow

2018 National Heritage Fellow Kelly Church is a black ash basket maker. An Anishinaabe belonging to the Gun Lake Potawami Band, Kelly combines the centuries-old tradition of tree harvesting and processing ash trees, creating ribbons of ash that she then weaves with her own keen visual sense which result in stunningly original baskets. Tied to her artistry is dep commitment to keeping this tradition not just alive but vital. She’s taken on a task that’s become more difficult and more urgent, since the ash tree is being destroyed by an invasive species the emerald ash borer. In this podcast, Kelly Church takes us on the journey of taking a living tree and recreating it as a basket, the significance of the black ash tree for the North East people, and the steps she’s taking to keeping this traditional art intact for the next generations.