My basic value of inclusiveness was learned at the dining table among a large family, where every point of view was expressed. In college, I studied ceramics and Interior Design- learning drafting the old fashioned way, on paper. There, I was trained to think at scale, either micro or macro, which served me well as I went on to design dozens of commercial projects from elevators to offices for Fortune 500 companies.
My full time art career began in earnest late in the 80’s, by returning to my first love: clay. For 20 years, I made mostly functional pieces that honored the traditional art forms of the tribes of the NW Coast. In the early 90’s I married a Tlingit culture bearer from Sitka, Alaska and raised our daughter amid their rich culture. There, I produced my first art installations as dinner theater, each of 50 plates illustrating the creation stories performed by my husband. I observed disconnection between the tangible art, kept in cedar boxes in private homes or in public museums behind Plexiglas, and the living art of dance and storytelling and oratory. So I made a dinner theater where they could be experienced by the public all in the same place, giving context to each other. It was well received by the tribal leaders as well as the public. When I relocated to Washington in 2000, I continued the pottery. Selling at native cultural events, I was surrounded by master artists, and I found some among the urban natives who knew very little about their own culture. As well as some who had great expertise in tribal art, but not of their own style. The Seattle mainstream art market demanding Alaska Native style and has been correcting for the Puget Salish style. I developed pottery in all the tribal styles to serve the very mixed tribal community.
After making art for 30 years, 23 of those in NW Indian country, still, every morning I feel as if I have barely scratched the surface. I am constantly adapting methods and materials, improvising tools, creating new markets and methods of serving them. The 200+ textiles include indigenous designs from the Pacific Rim cultures and around the world underscore Inclusivity.
Doe Stahr T’saawkaawkw of the Dakleweidee, Killer whale clan, adopted 8.31.1996 in Haines, Alaska