"I bead contemporary Native life": The Art of Teri Greeves

In beyond buckskin, contemporary beadwork, teri greeves by Adrienne K.4 Comments

AK note: Repost from the always fabulous Beyond Buckskin‘s Jessica Metcalfe. If you haven’t seen her blog, I highly recommend it. She blogs about Native fashion and Indigenous designers, and always has insightful and interesting commentary. This is one of her “Designer Profiles”.

Teri Greeves

Teri Greeves grew up on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming and began beading when she was eight years old. Since then, she has developed her own style and has become known for beading on unusual surfaces. Her medium of choice, beadwork, represents Native adaptability to new materials because it references the interaction and cultural exchange with Europeans who first introduced trade beads to Native Americans centuries ago.

Eclectic and vibrantly colored, her fully beaded high-top shoes combine contemporary Native realities with traditional oral historical themes, and modernizes the tradition of beading moccasins. Through her work she hopes to educate by sharing the history and values of her people, and to bring beauty into the world in new ways. Although many of Greeves’ pieces are for adornment, essentially, she says, “I bead contemporary Native life.”

Greeves’ Indian Couture book (pictured below) features six powwow outfits and highlights how each small accessory works with the dress to create an overall “look.” The handmade hairpieces, footwear, belts, dresses, pouches and shawls are all made with the finest materials. Through this book, Greeves honors Native women’s contemporary dance and clothing, and shows that these specially-made Indian outfits are couture. She states that changes in Native ‘traditional’ clothing represent living Native cultures, and these garments, which fuse the new with the old, are beautiful representations of survival. Greeves explains that, “In their contemporary, often urban, often educated, often well-traveled way, the women who dance and make outfits today are not only couture, but also the very definition of ‘authentic’ Native America.”

AK commentary: When I worked at the NMAI in DC for a summer, there was a pair of Teri’s high tops in one of the galleries, and it was hands down my favorite piece in the museum. I used to go out of my way to stop by and stare at them. The detail was incredible.

I always love art and other media that creates a juxtaposition between traditional forms and contemporary identity, and Ms. Greeve’s beading does that and more. I love the idea of modern regalia in traditional styles as a representation of survival. Her descriptions of her work are powerful as well:

“I bead contemporary Native life.”

“In their contemporary, often urban, often educated, often well-traveled way, the women who dance and make outfits today are not only couture, but also the very definition of ‘authentic’ Native America.”

Just beautiful. Thank you so much Jessica for posting about her work!

Original post on Beyond Buckskin: http://beyondbuckskin.blogspot.com/2010/05/designer-profile-teri-greeves.html

  • Very VERY cool.

    Except, I would feel so awful wearing them on my feet. I always find myself in dirt and mud. (Today it was clay. I mean, clay! In Davis, CA, how do /I/ find clay to wonder in!)

    But, Im definatly inspired by it. SOOO detail oriented!

    *typo: wander. I kept it like that. It’s cute, wondering in clay!

  • hi. you might have seen this already, but here’s something pretty fucked up that might belong on this blog: http://jezebel.com/5541899/the-worlds-worst-video-game-is-called-bonetown. i’m a really big fan of it by the way!

  • oh, uh, i mean fan of your blog, not that game. i screwed up my html on the link so you’ll have to copy+paste it.

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE her beadwork!! She’s phenom! I would totally buy those shoes. NDN Couture rocks my moccs!!!!