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Introducing Delaney Keshena

In their introductory blog post, resident artisan Delaney Keshena discusses their path to the Artisan Development Program and the paths that lie ahead. 

Posted on November 30, 2022
by Delaney Keshena (they/them) - Menomini

When thoughts hit paper, that feels solid. Like shelving going up and supplies coming off the floor. Ideas for projects knock around my head - this is where they’re thumbed through, picked at, worked on and ignored. That is, until an addition or edit makes an idea exciting enough for the concept to solidify and meet my notebook. Thoughts transitioned to page, that’s how my work begins.

image courtesy of Jaida Grey Eagle.

This residency began on paper (well, screen) in completing the application during the dragging ends of last winter. Then, I was an intern at North House, living in a timber frame on the harbor, moving tables, and trying to bead after work. Coming to Cook County in January was hard; hard like finding courage, the moment before plunging through a chainsawn hole in a frozen lake. But brushing that extreme is good for the body, and these woods remind me of home. The plants, and the order of their bloom, are familiar to me.

In the three seasons since applying to this program; I’ve traveled to my homelands where the Wolf River runs swamps through the Menominee reservation, driven back and forth from the Twin Cities where people are home, and throughout Ontario where Indigenous women have taught me to make skin last lifetimes.

All the trips, teachers, friends and especially lazy, late-morning family breakfasts have filled me up, and steadied me for these next two years. I feel grateful for this time to tan hides, work beads, weave, and follow the adjacent paths that show up during this time. Already, my studio floor has held porcupine blood, bead spills, pine bark, and 10 salting deer hides. 

Read about what I’m working on next, and how it all pans out—here in future blog posts, or through my website and instagram. ✌.

Also: these thoughts were compiled during native “american” heritage month, so here’s a playlist of native artists. Spend more time listening to Indigenous people.