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Mendhi hands by Pushpa Jain. Photographer unknown. All rights reserved.Fish decoy. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Embroidered dress detail. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Cedar bird by Glen VanAntwerp. Photo by Al Kamuda. All rights reserved.
Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Awards

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Renee "Wasson" Dillard and Nicole E. Massey
2013 master artist and apprentice
Harbor Springs and Brutus (Emmet County)
Native American black ash baskets

Born of a Scottish-American mother and Odawa father, Renée “Wasson” Dillard has gained recognition as a highly accomplished artist, educator, and culture bearer. She excels in finger weaving, black ash basketmaking, and weaving bulrush and cattail mats. Her work is included in several museums and she has taught in K-12 schools, museums, universities, and at pow wows and other programs. She has demonstrated her work at museums and festivals, including at the Great Lakes Folk Festival in the special MSU Museum/Smithsonian Institution “Carriers of Culture” program. In 2010 she was honored with a Michigan Heritage Award. She is recognized for her dedicated, effective teaching and for passing on her skills to others within tribal communities.

She began making baskets as a child, learning from her grandmother “as a way of life.” Today Wasson makes and teaches basketmaking full time in order to preserve this tradition. She teaches the entire black ash basket process from harvesting and processing the tree into usable basket materials to forming the materials into traditional patterns and shapes. In this apprenticeship, Nicole  will continue to learn skills she has begun to acquire under Wasson’s tutelage as well as assist Wasson in teaching workshops, thus also learning how to be a teacher someday herself.

-Marsha MacDowell

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