Michigan’s Kelly Church Honored at National Endowment for the Arts Awards Ceremony

Anishinabe (Gun Lake Band) black ash basketmaker Kelly Church from Allegan, Michigan. Photo by Tom Pich

Published September 28, 2018

WASHINGTON  — The National Endowment for the Arts honored the 2018 NEA National Heritage Fellows, recipients of the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts, at a ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Among the 2018 recipients is Anishinabe (Gun Lake Band) black ash basketmaker Kelly Church from Allegan, Michigan.

Church was presented with a medal in honor of her 2018 NEA National Heritage Fellowship by National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter and Director of Folk and Traditional Arts Clifford Murphy at the 2018 NEA National Heritage Fellowships Awards Ceremony on September 26, 2018.

At the ceremony, Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, described Kelly Church’s impact, saying:

“A master black ash basketmaker, descended from the Gun Lake and Grand Traverse Bands of the Ottawa/Pottawatomi; a prolific mentor who teaches her apprentices the holistic practice of basketmaking – from harvesting black ash trees and pounding the splints, to weaving intricate designs, all while sharing fellowship and Odawa language in the process; and a vigilant cultural and environmental conservationist who has dedicated her adult life to preserving black ash trees from the devastating effects of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer beetle. In recognition of her mastery of black ash basketry and community stewardship, the National Endowment for the Arts honors Kelly Church.”

Kelly Church will demonstrate her craft and be interviewed on stage at the NEA National Heritage Fellowships Concert tomorrow, Friday, September 28, in Washington, DC, which will be streamed live at arts.gov at 8 p.m. ET.



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