Weaver Mary Burns’ Ancestral Women Exhibit will be on display at Holy Family Catholic Church in Woodruff from Feb. 23 – March 3. (Photo credit: manitowoshriverstudio.com)

Holy Family Catholic Church, Woodruff, is hosting an upcoming exhibit, Ancestral Women: Wisconsin’s 12 Tribes. This exhibit, featuring hand-woven portraits by Mary Burns, will be on display Feb. 23 through March 3.

There will be an opening reception at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23. The reception will feature a concert by Wisconsin-based Indigenous women’s hand drum group the Strawberry Moon Women Singers (sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration) and two speakers, Lac du Flambeau elder Tinker Schuman and Mary Burns.

Through Burns’ hand-woven jacquard weavings, the Ancestral Women Exhibit honors and celebrates elder women, one from each of the 12 Native American tribes in Wisconsin. These are women who have held families and communities together, and who kept traditions, cultures, and languages alive. They were (or are today) the glue in the fabric of their communities.

Tribal members determined who they wished to see honored in this exhibit. They then provided photographs, which were redrawn and redesigned by Burns, creating the basis for the weavings. Other imagery was drawn into each piece as well, such as a clan symbol or a border that included traditional beadwork – something that helped tell a story about each woman and her tribe.

Included in the exhibit are the 12 portraits, six clan symbols, and four additional landscape pieces that speak to essential connections with the land: maple sugaring, wild ricing, birch bark canoe building, and one of a sunrise over water titled “Awakening Spirit.”

“I wanted to create an exhibit based on elder women from Wisconsin’s tribes,” Burns said. “My hope was to work with the tribes to honor the women they chose and to tell their stories. My goal was to celebrate and create a tribute to these women.”
She created all of the designs and wove them with cotton on her hand-jacquard loom.

“The hand-woven textiles connect us to the strength, beauty and determination of these women. It has been an honor for me to create this work,” stated Burns.

On Thursday, Feb. 28 at 9:30 a.m., she will be giving a presentation on the exhibit and the weaving process. On Friday, March 1, a World Day of Prayer event will take place at the church at 1 p.m.

The exhibit will continue through March 3.
For information and group reservations, contact Bonnie Edwardsen at 715-439-4226 or . For more about Burns’ work, see www.manitowishriverstudio.com and www.ancestralwomen.com.