Dreamcatcher earrings?! YES PLEASE. Check out this feature in Aritizia’s magazine. There is a short interview on the website, but I’m pasting the full Q&A below:
See the full DIY here!
Where are you from originally?
Do you remember your very first dream catcher (perhaps when you were a kid)? Can you describe it and what it meant to you at that time?
I remember a lot of really commercial looking stuff they would sell at fairs. The first one that really stands out in my mind was made by one of my 5th grade students when I was a public school art teacher, after I taught them how to make them. It was so carefully crafted, I still have it.
When and how did you discover your passion for making dream catchers?
I really wanted to experiment with making them in a different way, with salvaged materials, more conceptual. That was a few years ago, and I created several and put them in an art show. I blogged about it on my Tumblr (http://cosmicamerican.tumblr.com) and one of the pics went viral, got the attention of someone in Australia who wanted to buy it, so I decided to open an Etsy store.
What draws you to dream catchers—why do you love them?
I graduated with a teaching degree when there was a big push for multiculturalism in school curricula. And I naturally have been inspired by camp crafts, indigenous art forms and non-western/European art. I love the decorated circle, which is found in every culture on Earth. I love how you can cut up an old leather jacket or table cloth and it will still look awesome, that you can forage for feathers in your neighborhood.
What do you enjoy most about making them and what are your favorite materials to use?
I like the meditative aspect of the weaving, how you never know exactly how it’s going to look. I love using feathers from local farmers, scrap lace, and raffia for a dreamy beachy effect.
How many dream catchers do you have in your house?
Haha, good question! It varies, but probably around ten?
Have you always had an interest in nature, mysticism, dreams?
Definitely. My parents were quite bohemian, definitely products of the 60’s…so there was that vibe growing up. I used to have all kinds of visions, with sacred geometry symbols, and some kind of sense of the vastness of my inner world. Some people call it the “dreamtime”…and rock stars are like modern shamans, so in my musical life I tap into that as well.
How do you identify with indigenous cultures and mysticism, what about these topics inspires you most?
I’m glad that there is a renewed interest in societies that payed extremely close attention to what is going on in their bioregion. I think it’s important to be mindful that Native American nations are as diverse as, say, European nations. We shouldn’t think of all Native Americans as a giant bloc just as we wouldn’t group all Europeans together in the same group either. And I’m not so interested in romanticizing indigenous cultures as a whole, when there’s plenty of misogyny and war there too. But every culture has wisdom, has medicine, has belief systems and cosmologies that are worth examining. People are clearly looking for and creating new paradigms out of the available wisdom. It’s important to do that, AND it’s important to honor the wisdom of the land you’re standing on, even if it’s a suburb. Where does your water come from? Where does your trash go? What are the edible plants in your area? And what are you creating that is useful to future generations? What is your legacy?
Do you feel a special connection to the culture and traditions of Native Americans in particular?
Again, it depends on which Nation, they’re not a homogenous group. I grew up in Oklahoma where the street names were in Cherokee. So there was a sense of togetherness, rather than “otherness.” I lived for a very long time in Northern New England where the Abenaki were struggling to get recognition. Now I live in the Pacific Northwest, where some folks still speak a really interesting pidgin form of Chinook language called “Chinook Wawa” and the traditional housing was a longhouse, not a tipi. Plants and animals (especially the ones I see in my area) are extremely important to me, their medicine is powerful. I feel a sense of responsibility to give back to the people whose traditions are in part providing me with a livelihood as an artist. So I sent up an automatic monthly payment from my bank to http://NAYApdx.org, the Native American Youth & Family Association of Portland. And I have deep respect for the #IdleNoMore movement.
How would you define “Cosmic American” art?
I would say it’s a mix of camp crafts, rock and roll culture, Eastern mysticism, salvaged items and earth-based inspiration.
How and why did you decide to start your Dream School Salon? What do you enjoy most about helping other women develop and follow their dreams?
I have a good sense of forecasting trends. I think it’s partly because I worked with young people for so many years, they’re “early adopters” of new technologies. Now I’m seeing a lot of creative folks who are recognizing the need to get their online presence together in a meaningful way, but it can be overwhelming. So I use the marketing and branding process to help the women in my groups get clarity on their vision, voice, and the feeling states they would like to experience regularly. This can be a very powerful process as it reveals what is truly your soul’s calling, and that may be radically different from the dreams our parents have for us, or our society’s. It may mean you need to do some psychotherapy to learn how to let go of your father’s expectations, or it may mean you get into mindfulness meditation to cultivate the observer self that can tell when the negative self-talk is broadcasting in your brain, and not follow it down the rabbit hole of doubt and fear. It may mean you have to get really uncomfortable, in the way that caterpillars turn to mush before they transform into butterflies. That’s the yoga of full expression, right? You’re like, AHHH I CAN’T STAND THIS, but if you breathe through the really uncomfortable moments, and ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED, you will come out the other side with a sense of your business as a spiritual practice. What I enjoy the most is the synergy of working with a group of women who can see each others’ greatness at times when we can’t see our own. So we’re creating a community that’s based on collaboration rather than competition. And like Lao Tzu said about good leadership: When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, the people say “We did it ourselves!”