Kathryn Miller

Tribe: Spokane
Based In: Portland, OR
Email: kmil645@gmail.com

About the Art
The front of Foundation bodice depicts an ecosystem common in the Spokane Indian territories. There are no humans in this view. The human model of this garment is literally placed within the system. However, the system would run well without her presence. The only anomaly in this natural setting is the picketed white line at bottom left suggesting another story. If you follow that line to the left side of the foundation piece you will discover people. Only females are depicted in human form. Many Indigenous Tribes are based on matrilineal family systems. Strong females ensure strong families. In this scene a grandmother watches over the children. Elders of the Tribe are respected for their life experience and children are treasures representing the future. The male is represented by the Stag (deer). Follow the smoke from the tipi fire or follow the children around left to the back - this is where spirit and strength are depicted.

The inspiration for this scene began with a photograph of my Great Grandmother (Big Mom) who possessed many good and powerful traits. She had healing knowledge and spiritual power. She gave me a very special gift as a child that led me to look deeper into my remarkably rich heritage. Big Mom faces the outline of the Spokane Indian territory as recorded in 1955 shortly before my birth. That image is enhanced with both Sun and Moon. The sweat of Big Mom’s brow from the warmth of the sun runs like water to all living things sharing the Sun’s essential spark. The animals depicted at her back possess qualities of character and spirit that I believe my Grandmother also possessed. Follow the Raven around to the left side and you will see that Grandmother has her own set of wings. The wings wrap around to the front and become the foundation layers of the Earth beneath the waters that carry Salmon to our people, the Spokane, once known as the Salmon Eaters. Today the Spokane are recognized as the Children of the Sun and we are grateful to all those who came before us providing us with a strong Foundation.

About the Artist
My earliest memorable constructions involved fabrics. To me, cloth itself was a work of art. I began making my own clothing as soon as I could use the tools. I was proud to create with cloth in the manner of my mother and grandmothers. Tradition inspired me to work in the Fiber Arts. The materials I select for a work set a tone for the piece. Although much of my work is made with natural materials or purchased cloth, I also incorporate many items that have had a previous life; usually repurposed clothing or other thrift store goods. I enjoy coaxing something new from materials that already have defined boundaries of space or time. Through my art practice I continually test my assertion that perceived walls are permeable on some level. Common themes in my body of work. I was taught that I am a small piece of a much bigger spirit and the Earth is a gift we were placed within not placed upon. It is my duty to be mindful of my interactions with all entities of the water, earth and air. Our world has a natural balance and order which we must work to restore. Much of my work encompasses ecology and consumerism. I don’t expect to find answers through the creation of my art. But art has the power to spark conversations. Just as the story of yəhaw̓ shows, the solutions to big problems come from the united efforts of many hearts and minds. Disintegrating family structures, drug and alcohol addictions, collapsing ecosystems are worldwide problems none of us can afford to ignore. Culture gives me hope as I look for guidance. Hope that with awareness, the solutions are within our reach if we join all together, yəhaw̓!