Internationally acclaimed Tuscarora beadwork artist Rosemary Rickard Hill and quilter Stephanie Drehs, bring their work together in a unique native and non-native art form they named “Rofanies,” a contemporary form of “whimsies”, the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) beadwork created for Victorian-era tourists.
The artists began collaborating in honor of Gage’s friendship with Haudenosaunee Women, and they are generously donating 50% of Rofanies sales to the Gage Foundation. Among other museums where Rosemary Hill’s artwork has been displayed are the British Museum, the Smithsonian Institution and the Royal Ontario Museum.
Photos of the exhibit are found here:
ROSEMARY RICKARD HILL
Rosemary Rickard Hill’s knowledge of Tuscarora Raised Beadwork comes from her great aunt, grandmother, mother, and other Tuscarora women. Currently exhibiting at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., she started doing the raised beading as a child. By the age of twelve, Rosemary was sewing raised and flat beadwork on picture frames, pincushions, and small purses. Based on patterns handed down thought the generations, items such as these were first sold to nineteenth century tourists. She helped sell her family’s work at Prospect Park, Niagara Falls, and the Indian village at the New York State Fair. Often inspired by turn-of-the-century works, and drawing on the inspiration of history to create very contemporary designs, her pieces include only natural, glass, crystal, and gemstone beads.
“Using the souvenir art form that was sold during the Victorian era, now known to many as the ‘whimsies,’ I’m reinventing it in a contemporary form,” Hill says.
“Stephanie Drehs is a quilter who had come to my beadwork classes at the Niagara Historical Society in Lewiston,” Hill continues. ” We thought of the purses to do together, because the purse is a great accessory that everyone uses, and can be sold so we decided to try our hand at doing the purses together. We thought it would be a good item to start with. Stephanie would do the quilting and I’d do the beading. When we got into it, we really liked what was coming out of our work together. We decided to keep going and name them Rofanies, a combination of our names. We’ll be making more, and more than just purses. And hopefully we’ll have other exhibits for just Rofanies. I’m so happy with them. What I thought was so great about it for the opening of the Gage Home was because it’s something being created by a Native and a non-Native woman working together, a great place to present Rofanies to the public for the first time.”
Hill has exhibited her work in the British Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Musee-McCord Museum, the Rochester Museum and Science Center, Castallani Museum, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, the Denver Museum of Natural History in CO, and elsewhere.
See also the blog post about the beadwork exhibit by Maureen Green:
ALL OF THE ITEMS THAT YOU SEE HERE ARE FOR SALE, WITH 50% OF THE PROFITS GOING TO SUPPORT THE WORK OF THE GAGE CENTER. Contact us: foundation@MatildaJoslynGage.org or (315) 637-9511.