Leith Mahkewa

Artist Profile

Leith Mahkewa
Kaneratonta: Kahnawake, QC

Leith Mahkewa - beadwork“I didn’t even think I would get in!” exclaimed Mahkewa. The artist submitted an application to show her skills at the 2013 Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market in Arizona. The festival brings over 700 top quality Ind igenous artists from all nations together with over 20,000 visitors eager to purchase exclusive, one of a kind works. Her piece was not only accepted, but went on to take First Place in her division, and then Best in Class overall in Diverse Art Forms.

The award winning piece is a beaded bag, titled “Raotonnets – His Spirit.” The bag carries the story of a boy beginning his journey into manhood. Her vision is of a young man carrying this bag as he walks into manhood, learning to become a strong provider and protector, hunting with his elders, and carrying in it medicines for offerings of thanks.

In creating the piece, the artist went through some essential growth in her creative process. “Everything I’ve made has been for somebody, this was the first thing I made that was for nobody.” While that process was freeing, it also came with its own set of complications. “It had no purpose at first. It was just something I was making to be judged. There was no soul to the bag, and then it came.”

Mahkewa says this was her breakthrough piece as an artist, bringing a strong artistic maturity, [tweetable]“The art is taking you where it wants you to go, rather than the piece telling you where you have to go.”[/tweetable]

This is not her only work of art. Leith’s beadwork is in high demand throughout the nation. “For me its all about somebody who is using it. I want to see somebody using it. I don’t want to see my work sitting in a box. That is the greatest compliment to me. Whether they are gifted or bought, that is what gives those pieces life. Its good to find things that are in perfect condition but if it shows the time, if you can see the persons footprint that is what is good to me.”

Her work is available to view, and for purchase, on her Facebook page Leith Mahkewa. https://www.facebook.com/leithbeadwork

Leith Mahkewa
Kaneratonta – “when the buds are coming out”
Oneida-Hopi Beadwork Artist from Kahnawake, QC

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