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Artist biography


Grand Rapids, Michigan

Image of Dolores Laban

With ancestral ties to Ottawa tribal leader Chief Pontiac, Dolores Gwendolyn Laban is Grand River Ottawa and Saginaw Swan Creek/Black River Chippewa. While growing up, she was exposed to the many traditional arts practiced by family and community members and was influenced by her mother's braided rugs, baskets, quilts, and caning. Laban recalls that her mother used to "cut patterns from newspapers to make doll clothes and play clothes for us. All these were functional home use articles but still a learning art form for us."

While raising her own children, Laban worked full-time in a factory and tried her hand at oil painting and pottery. It was not until 1983, however, that she added artmaking to her busy life on a regular basis after taking a course in stained glass.

Laban immediately felt that stained glass, although a very nontraditional art within her community's cultural experience, was a medium through which she could express her Native American heritage. Her work reflects traditional and deeply spiritual themes and includes depictions of feathers, traditional dancers, and animals and plants that figure prominently in Native American beliefs.

Her work has been exhibited at pow wows and cultural centers around the country and is represented in many museums and private collections.

Artist's work

Object measurements and display specifications:

Dolores Laban
Wetland Brothers, 1993
Stained glass panel
27 3/4" x 16 3/4"
Sisters of the Great Lakes Collection
MSU Museum 7594.13; FAD 94.81.13

Object held in free-standing plinth with steel framework: base height = 10 inches; base width = c. 22 inches; metal framework mounts in base to a height of 80 inches. Stained glass panel fits into the steel framework. Metal loops suspend top of piece. V-split wires secure piece at bottom.