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Artist biography


Makoon-se-kwe (Little Bear Woman)
Interlochen, Michigan

Image of Sandy Dyer

Sandy Dyer, a member of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa, comes from a community rich in traditional heritage. Within her own family are some of the region's best-known porcupine quillworkers and storytellers. Dyer is also a skilled traditional dancer who participates regularly in area pow wows.

Her interests in the traditional ways of her people and in working with clay led to an informal apprenticeship with well-known master Woodland Indian potter Frank Ettawageshik in 1986. Dyer continued her work with Ettawageshik through a 1993 Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship coordinated by the Michigan State University Museum and sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Under his guidance, Dyer learned how to gather the natural resources needed to create the earth-fired clay pots that have been used for centuries by Woodland tribes. "It's like going back in time," says Dyer of the painstaking process of digging clay, forming and decorating pots, and firing them in an earthen pit.

Dyer is not yet a full-time potter; for now it is enough to make pots for her own satisfaction and to give to friends and family. By taking her young son with her into the Michigan woods to search for the right kind of clay for her pots, Dyer feels she is sharing with him a spiritual connection to the earth and her traditions. She also enjoys teaching others about Woodland pottery making, including youth in summer camps run by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

Artist's work

Image of Woodlands open pot by Sandy DyerObject measurements and display specifications:

Sandy Dyer
Woodlands open pot, 1994
4" (diameter 4 1/4")
Sisters of the Great Lakes Collection
MSU Museum 7594.17

Object held in free-standing vitrine: base height = 33 inches; base width = 24 x 24 inches; acrylic height is 19 inches.  Woodlands open pot sits in ring fixture for support, which sits on floor of case.