The Art of Small Things
Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art
Jaad Kuujus, Meghann O’Brien (1982-) is of Haida-Kwakwaka’wakw and Irish descent, and grew up in Alert Bay, in the Kwakwaka'wakw territory on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island.
In 2010 she made the shift from professional snowboarder to full-time traditional weaver. Inspired by food gathering baskets, she gathered materails and made her first berry basket, which she gifted to her grandmother. During this time, Beau Dick, hereditary Chief and master carver, introduced Meghann to his daughter and accomplished weaver, Kerri Dick (Haida-Kwakwaka’wakw). Kerri taught her fine weaving techniques. Meghann then worked with Kerri’s mother Sherri Dick (Haida), and William White (Tsimshian). From these master weavers, O’Brien learned how to spin wool and weave Chilkat and Raven’s Tail styles. She had the opportunity to work with each teacher to learn classical weaving traditions and meanings.
Meghann takes materials from the natural world and transforms them into remarkable pieces of high –level human expression. Working with traditional materials such as mountain goat wool and cedar bark has given her a deep connection to the supernatural world, a connection to her anncestors. She describes working with cedar bark as, “travelling back in time” or “touching the cosmos”. Her creations have made a profound impact within Contempoary Northwest Coast Art.
Meghann focuses her work on nature, simplicity and tradition. She admires the diamond pattern because to her it symbolizes the galaxy and the endless possibilities and knowledge of her ancestry.
Finishing a piece creates a spirit for the pieces energy to be released, and speaks to an individual in ways that cannot be described. It gives Meghann great joy and gratification to know she can share such a powerful feeling and message using traditional methods. She finds herself most drawn to basketry because it is so useful and meaningful, and she is inspired by the feeling the cedar gives her. She describes it as “leaving human time”.
Curated by Cassandra Moody, Haida.