Making baskets in the Passamaquoddy tradition has earned Molly Neptune Parker of Princeton a 2012 NEA National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. She will demonstrate her craft on Oct. 4 in Washington, D.C., along with the eight other recipients of the honor.
“Basketmaking is for me about innovation and creativity within the context of a traditional art form,” Parker said. “The functionality, the materials and the shapes have been a legacy for each generation. I honor the legacy and believe I have a responsibility to continue it, basing it always on our traditions and knowledge of literally thousands of years.”
Parker is passing on the basketmaking tradition by mentoring her grandson George Neptune in the art. She began creating baskets as a child, using scraps left from her mother’s basketmaking.
Traditionally, Passamaquoddy families would create signature designs that were handed down to the next generation. Parker makes baskets embellished with ash flowers as her mother and grandmother did before her. Her aunts also made baskets, and the men of her family harvested and pounded the ash to prepare it for basketmaking.
Parker’s history as a basketmaker includes serving as president of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance and serving as a master teacher in the Maine Arts Commission traditional arts apprenticeship program. She also demonstrated basketmaking at the 2006 Smithsonian Folklife Festival and has conducted demonstrations and classes at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine festivals and at schools.
She also is the recipient of the Maine Arts Commission Fellowship Award for Traditional Arts, the New England Foundation for the Arts Native Arts Award and the First People’s Fund Community Spirit Award.
“Basketmaking is an art that I believe I was born to do, much as my ancestors have done for thousands of years,” Parker said.
A traditional beading and ribbon work demonstration with Passamaquoddys Gal Frey and Leon Sockbeson will be held 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1, at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor. They are working on making a reproduction chief’s coat based on one displayed in “Uncommon Threads,” an exhibit produced by the Maine State Museum. The original coat dates to the mid-1700s and is made of red trade wool and decorated with ribbon and glass trade beads. The coat will be displayed in Passamaquoddy communities upon completion. Gal and Leon will talk about the research and process of making the coat, which will be near completion. Admission is free, made possible by the support of Bar Harbor Bank and Trust and the Maine Arts Commission.
The Eddington School will hold its annual Fall Craft Fair, bake sale and luncheon 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Eddington School gymnasium, Route 9.
Operation Christmas Cards is partnering with Michaels and AC Moore stores to host card drives nationwide. The cards will be sent to U.S. military members deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Japan and Germany. To access an online class on how to make Christmas cards, go to http://spottedcanary.com/School/Online-Classes.htm. Send holiday cards by Friday, Nov. 9, to EK Success Brands, c/o Operation Christmas Cards, 100 Delawanna Ave., Suite 700, Clifton, NJ 07014. Send only cards with handwritten encouraging messages, do not seal the envelopes and do not put postage on them.
Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153, or email email@example.com. Don’t forget to visit her blog at byhand.bangordailynews.com.