May 31, 2012

Artist Profile | Ann-erika White Bird

Ann-erika White Bird is an enrolled member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation.

She began her beading career thirteen years ago, creating moccasins for her relatives.

She is also a rising star in the beadwork scene. In 2011 she was commissioned by the Denver Art Museum to create a piece for their "Wearable Art" collection. This project was a part of an initiative of the museum to educate non-Native and Native audiences about the vibrancy of Native local artists, and White Bird was one of the Denver-area artists asked to create touchable items for the education area of the art museum.

She created a jean jacket that blended the traditional with the contemporary and was designed so that kids could try it on. White Bird, who is originally from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota has lived both on- and off-reservation, and thought of the children who would try it on, she said, “especially Indigenous children who do not know where they come from. If a child were to make a connection that way, through our art to where they come from, then my work could be a part of returning our children home. We affect each other in many ways that we can’t possibly know or understand. My intentions, thoughts and prayers went into this piece.”

Her work was also accepted in the South Dakota Governor's 5th Biennial Art Exhibition. She said, "Being selected to be part of the exhibition was a lot more prestigious than I originally thought. My beaded cradleboard was the piece selected. The cradleboard was the only traditional Lakota art in the exhibition. There were a handful of other Lakota artists selected and they created contemporary artwork."

White Bird beads buckskin moccasins, bags, and jewelry. She also has a bachelor's degree in English-Creative Writing from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is a published poet, working on getting her first book out next year. Last year she was invited to Canada and to perform her poetry in Victoria, BC. She noted, "It doesn't pertain to fashion, but writing is also an act of creating - interpreting what you see."

Beaded Cradleboard

Wedding Moccasins