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Grace College Exhibits ‘Woven Fibers from the Forest’

Grace College 2023 Art Exhibition is “Woven Fibers from the Forest” by Kelly Church. A great opportunity for our students and community to enjoy the art.

The Grace College Department of Visual and Performing Arts is pleased to announce its new art exhibition, “Woven Fibers from the Forest” by Kelly Church (Pottawatomi/Ottawa/Ojibwe). The exhibit will feature a collection of traditional basketry and weavings, which will be on display from Oct. 17 to Dec. 8 at the Art Gallery of Mount Memorial Hall, 1 Lancer Way, Winona Lake.

A member of the Matchi-be-nash-she-wish tribe in Hopkins, Michigan, Church comes from an unbroken line of black ash basket makers. She works with fibers of the woods and forests in Michigan to create weavings that convey narratives that affect current and future generations. Using traditional methods, Church combines natural elements with metals and man-made materials to weave contemporary baskets that share stories of her life and experiences in today’s world.

“This stunning artwork allows the viewer to better understand the importance of our relationship with our environment and one another,” said Dr. Kim M. Reiff, chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts. “While we may initially view the artwork as functional or as a decorative result of creative excellence, upon closer look, we see this artist as a caretaker. Embedded within the woven fibers, her heritage, tradition and care for nature are revealed. Sharing narratives through her artwork becomes an invitation for viewers to consider their own stories in an ever-changing world.”

As a culture bearer, Native woman, artist, teacher and activist, Church’s work expresses an integrated relationship with family and community.

“My work speaks of the teachings from ancestors as well as the teachings from my mentors who have helped shape the person I am today,” said Church. “The work tells the story of the destruction of the Black Ash Tree, reveals knowledge of harvesting fibers from the forest and gives voice to integrated historical and contemporary traditions. I create baskets to engage people in conversation.”

Church received her associate’s degree in fine arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and her bachelor of fine arts from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.

She is a nationally recognized recipient of numerous awards, including the 2018 National Endowment of the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship, which is the nation’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts. Church is also a four-time recipient of the Artist Leadership Program through the National Museum of the American Indian. Most recently, she was granted the Community Spirit Award from the First Peoples Fund for her traditional teachings among Michigan Native communities, sustaining traditions for future generations.

Church will give an artist talk in the Mount Memorial Art Gallery on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. The community is invited to attend the free opening reception from 7-9 p.m.

The exhibit is open to all without charge Oct. 17 – Dec. 8. Gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 1 – 5 p.m. For more information, call the Grace College Department of Visual and Performing Arts at 574-372-5100 ext. 6022 or email The exhibit is ADA accessible.

For more information about the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, visit

Tagged With: Art, Events