Laura J. Revels
I am Tlingit, Kaagwaantaan (Eagle Moiety from the Wolf Clan), and am originally from Southeast Alaska but have lived in Anchorage off and on since 2002. I Bead Artist, blogger, storyteller/storytelling trainer, and woodcarver.
I run and manage an Indigenous beading group, Anáaski Kawóot, which means Alaska Bead in my language. Many of our members live here in Anchorage and our membership is reflective of all the Tribal communities of Alaska. When I started Anáaski Kawóot, it was a way to build community and connections – to provide a fellowship space for our Indigenous bead artists to help each other grow in our craft, and to teach others who may have not had the opportunity to learn their traditional arts. Our group has inspired me further to learn all I can about the beading and carving arts of the Alaska Native people – it is what gets me out of bed! I love seeing the beauty of our traditional arts, trying to figure out how it was done, and helping others to increase their bead artistry knowledge, stories, and skills.
The Mission of Anáaski, which I developed, and is also my own personal mission. It is to preserve our cultural beading arts form, inspire artistic excellence; share our artistry and cultural knowledge, and to live the shared value of “we all go forward together.” It is this Mission that I believe makes me an excellent fit for the Church of Love’s artist community. The Church provides a kind and safe space for meeting, learning, supporting one another, and providing beading and cultural events to the Alaska Native people and to the Anchorage community.
I learned from my Grandma about beading, making Regalia, and gathering materials for her Chilkat blankets and spruce root dolls and baskets. My Grandma, Annie Lawrence, Tlingit, of Hoonah, instilled in me that before I started my bead work or pattern making that I needed to be in a good place so that I didn’t put any bad feelings or thoughts into the work I was creating. I still carry these words over to any of my artistic works and other areas of my life.
My grandmother would spend many hours with me teaching me beading, pattern-making, and the stories of our People. It was some of the greatest moments of my childhood and I became a pretty good bead artist and pattern-maker. However, due to life, I stopped practicing our arts for about 30 years, and restarted again a few years ago. I create some of our old designs, and create some with a contemporary twist. I have a vision of recreating some of the very old designs on a large scale, such as a completely beaded Chilkat blanket, as well as creating a line of handmade Tlingit dolls wearing Regalia.
My grandmother also instilled in me, that we have a responsibility to share our cultural knowledge with others so that we can all go forward together. For me, this value is what it is all about, going forward together. Because of this value and responsibility, I now get to honor my Grandma, and all those who have come before us and those who will come after, through my art. It is why I do art. It is my way to help preserve, inspire, and nurture our ways of being through our arts. It brings me great peace and joy to do so.