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A photo of a woman with dark brown hair and a happy smile. She wears a blue scarf, a black shirt, and dangling earrings that resemble butterfly wings.

Portrait photo by Tom Pich.


Kelly Church

She // Her // Hers

Artist Activist

Hopkins, Michigan

I use traditional teachings from the past to create weavings that share my voice as an artist and activist living in today's world, looking ahead for sustainable solutions to ensure the continuation of traditional teachings and sustainable practices for future generations.”

Kelly Church comes from the largest black ash basket-making family in Michigan. Church uses the traditional teachings of her Anishnabe people to share her voice as a Native, woman, activist, artist, mother and culture bearer. She harvests and processes fibers from the forests that include black ash splints, basswood, birch bark, sweetgrass, white cedar bark, and quills.

Kelly received her AFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and BFA from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.

Church is a 2018 National Heritage Fellow, and her work can be found in collections around the US including the National Museum of the American Indian, International Museum of Folk Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Donor -This award was generously supported by Good Chaos.

This artist page was last updated on: 07.11.2024

[ID: A small, oblong sculpture constructed from knotted strands of fiber. The fiber resembles that of dried grass: golden beige in color and fragile with fraying edges. Perched on top of the precarious structure is a solitary butterfly with purple, blue, and black beaded wings.]

Emergence of We. Black ash splints, spruce roots, copper, basswood, birch bark, quills, beads, velvet, sinew. Photo by Kelly Church.

A woven, lidded sweetgrass basket in turquoise with golden accents. On either side of the basket is a green flash drive and a small glass specimen vial with a beetle inside.

Kelly Church. Sustaining Traditions-Digital Teachings. Black ash splints, Sweetgrass, copper, rit dye, flash drive, and vial with Emerald ash borer inside liquid.

Photo by Richard Church.