Engage students in a discussion about the clothes they are wearing, and what group or groups their clothing makes them a part of. (Some examples would be tie-dye fabrics association with a counter-culture outlook, urban street style clothes, and tee shirts featuring band names). What other kinds of clothing do you have that identifies you as a member of a different group? (Possibilities include team attire, choir gowns, and blue jeans). What clothing do you have that reflects your heritage? (Perhaps students have traditional ethnic garments such as kilts, dirndls and dashikis, or special clothes worn on holidays). Explain to the students that they will view a segment featuring bead artist Teri Greeves, whose beadwork reflects her heritage. Suggest that as they view her in her studio and listen to her story they should pay special attention to the way she connects her artwork to her heritage and identity.
View the segment on Teri Greeves in Origins on the Craft In America DVD.
Discuss the program with students. In what ways does the artist combine the past and the present in her artworks? (She uses traditional materials and techniques, she creates imagery that refers to stories important to native life, and she often beads modern-day objects such as sneakers and umbrellas). What role does her mother play in Teri Greeves’ artmaking process? (Greeves’ mother provides a connection with her Kiowa history and respect for traditional beadwork from many native cultures.) What role do her sons play in Teri Greeves’ artmaking process? (Greeves sensed a need to engage her sons with their Kiowa heritage. Examples include the Sunboyz presented as superheroes.) Help students understand that much of the artist’s pictorial imagery comes from her memories and stories associated with her heritage. What kind of imagery did the artist create with beads and what was the source of these images? (Images of parades remembered from her childhood, World War II soldiers and Sunboyz—all related to her heritage.)
View the video clip in which Teri Greeves and her mother discuss beaded garments.
Discuss the video clip. How do Greeves’ garments make the wearer part of a group? What value might this have? Being part of a group can make one feel comfortable and included. For Greeves, the beaded garments also show a pride in the group’s (Kiowa) heritage. Elicit comparable student experiences: How does it feel to be part of a group identified by clothing? Do you ever take pride in group identification?
(one 45 minute class)
Explain to students that they will be embellishing an item of their choice (or a patch of cloth provided by the teacher) with a design that has personal significance and can be representative of a group to which they belong.
To assist them in generating ideas for their own work, have students compare traditional beadwork with the work of Teri Greeves while completing the “Beadworking Past and Present” worksheet. They will need to access The National Museum of the American Indian and the Shiprock Gallery websites (or they may examine images from each that the teacher has printed out).
(one 45 minute class)
Have students complete the “Designs of Belonging” worksheet. Circulate, helping students brainstorm first, the many groups to which they belong, and second, the symbols that may already exist for these groups. Part of the worksheet suggests that students solicit opinions about their design choices from classmates and especially, if possible, from fellow members of the group. If it is a family group, students may take the sheet home and share the designs with family members and record their responses on the back of the sheet.
After finishing the second worksheet, students should have some ideas for designs that they may finalize on a separate sheet of paper. Students should be able to describe how the design represents, symbolically or pictorially, the group they have selected. (Examples could be the depiction of traditional family heritage motifs, embellished religious symbols, stylized sports motifs, or initials representing the combined names of a group of friends.)
(three 45 minute classes, including the reflection activity)
Note that some students may wish to engage in beadworking in the manner of Teri Greeves, in which the design is completed with solely with beads. Alternatively, students may wish to stitch the design with thread or paint the design and add beading to highlight particular areas.
To transfer designs to cloth choose one of the following. Using a temporary marking pen, draw the design or trace it on a light table if fabric is not opaque. Alternatively, draw the design on tissue paper and pin or tape it to the fabric. Sew directly through the paper and tear it away when design is finished. If painting is combined with stitching or beading, students should paint the intended sections of the design first and let them dry.
For beading, thread needle, bring thread ends together and knot at ends of lengths (thus doubling the strand). Pass or pull the thread over the chunk of wax. The wax helps to keep the thread from twisting and knotting and adds strength. Attach first knot to the back of the fabric and bring thread to the front of the fabric in preparation for stitching. To do the hump stitch in the tradition of Kiowa beadwork, string 5-7 beads on the thread. Make a stitch slightly shorter than the length of the strung beads (one or two bead lengths) so they form a small hump or loop above the surface of the fabric. This creates an interesting textural effect. Lines of beads should be worked closely together for a rich, dense appearance. Tie off thread on the back of design when it runs out and add another strand of thread when needed. Embroidery floss for embroidered stitches may be handled in the same manner as the beading thread. Separate the floss into two or three-strand sections for use. Knot at one end, or bring ends together and knot if thread is to be used doubled. Small stitches may be used to outline areas of design.