August 03, 2008

Nipmuc birch-bark artistry

Nipmuc artist sees 'designs everywhere'Sierra Henries has been making art for as long as she can remember. Now the 21-year-old Nipmuc tribal member is emerging as an accomplished artist of the traditional art of wood burning on birch bark.

Sierra comes from a family of artistic talent. Her father is Hawk Henries, a well-known musician and flute maker, and her sister is a dancer. In June, the Henries family was on Indian Island in Maine for the first Penobscot Indian Nation Pow-wow where Hawk performed and sold his handmade flutes, and Sierra sold her delicate wood-burned birch bark artwork.
And:The designs are all drawn freehand. The butterfly seems to be Sierra's signature design, but others are abstract or geometric forms resembling the meditative mandalas of Eastern religious art.

The mandala-like patterns "don't have any specific meaning. They have certain energies put into each one. I see designs everywhere, from the gravel in my driveway to items in the grocery store. There are lines and circles and lines popping out everywhere and they kind of collect themselves and form the designs I do on the birch bark, although sometimes I do manage to shut my eyes and there does happen to be a new one there."

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