Patricia Ningewance is known for her books on Ojibwe, an indigenous Algonquin language spoken by native peoples in parts of Canada. But the writer and linguist from the Lac Seul First Nation in northwestern Ontario has a talent for more than just words. She’s also a brilliant fabric artist – a fact that was on display at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery in Ontario, where her cloth creations were featured in an exhibit earlier this year.
Full of color, life and movement, Ningewance’s fabric art impressionistically depicts landscapes, animals, portraits, abstract designs, animals and spiritual themes central to the Anishinabe, an indigenous peoples’ nation called Ojibwe in Canada and Chippewa in the U.S. “In my textile work,” says Ningewance in a statement, “I use pieces of quilts or solid color fabric as the background and sew on smaller cut pieces. I add ribbons and buttons, and I finish with embroidery and beadwork. Sometimes, I use parts of actual quilts as a starting point because I was inspired to create this artwork from my memories of quilts.”
Recently, Ningewance told the Wataway News (www.watawaynews.ca) that her interest in fabric art was sparked during family trips around rural northwestern Ontario. While huddled in tents during rainy days during the travels, she keenly observed the different fabrics of her family’s garments and quilts. “That’s where my relationship with cloth began,” she says.