Metalsmith Magazine: Hollis Chitto: Beadwork that Speaks to the Moment

4/2/2021


In 2009, Maine's Abbe Museum, dedicated to showcasing the history and cultures of the Wabanaki people in Maine, launched The Twisted Path, a series of exhibitions illustrating “the way in which Native people balance the importance of tribal identity and knowledge with the non-Native communities that surround them.” The fourth of these shows, Twisted Path IV: Vital Signs, exhibited in 2017, included Bloodwork 2, a beaded bag by Santa Fe–based artist Hollis Chitto (Mississippi Choctaw/Laguna Pueblo/Isleta Pueblo), titled “to draw attention to HIV in Native communities, an issue that needs more awareness,” he says. “It’s one of several planned projects that talks about ideas of queerness and being two-spirit.” Shaped as a large downward-facing arrow, the bag’s white-beaded background is overlaid with a stylized splash of glittering red beads, signifying Indigenous blood. In 2020, with COVID-19 disproportionately impacting First Nations, Bloodwork 2 took on new relevance. It was included in We Never Left: Artists of Southeast Indian Tribes, an exhibition at the Museum of Arts & Sciences (MOAS) in Daytona Beach, Florida.


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