PAINTINGS: “From Her Heart Thru Her Hands…“ SERIES
"Jennie Thlunaut - Chilkat Weaver"
Jennie Thlunaut (1892 – 1986) was a Tlingit artist, who is credited with keeping the art of Chilkat weaving alive. She was one of the most celebrated Northwest Coastal master weavers of the 20th century.
Jennie has become widely recognized especially for her skill as a Tlingit weaver of Chilkat blankets. She received her first batch of mountain goat hair as a child and her mother taught her weaving when she was only 10 years old.
Jennie was married by arrangement at the age of thirteen in 1905 to John James. Jennie’s parents gave the Chilkat5 blanket with the frog crest that Jennie and her mother had made in 1902 to John James at their traditional Tlingit wedding.
She finished a blanket that had been started by her mother and had been passed to Jennie after her mother died in 1908. She sold her first finished blanket for $50. Jennie made her own first blanket from start to finish in 1910 while living “in a tent” in Ketchikan where she and her husband were fishing for the summer. When her daughter attended Sheldon Jackson School, Jennie paid the tuition with a blanket she wove featuring a frog emerging from winter hibernation.
Jennie made more than fifty blankets and twenty five tunics in her seventy-five-year-long career. She was a prolific weaver and while traditionally a Chilkat blanket would take a full-time year to finish, Jennie was able to finish many blankets while at the same time preserving subsistence foods, holding down a job and raising her three James and 1 Thlunaut daughter after her first husband died and she remarried in 1922. Jennie sold some of her work but much of her work was given as gifts to her family. Chilkat blankets are traditionally woven with mountain goats wool (dyed with tree lichens, oxidized copper and urine steeped hemlock bark) and red cedar bark. Jennie spun all of her own yarn in the traditional way, twisting the wool against her leg.
1984: Smithsonian Institution chose her to demonstrate weaving, Festival of American Folklife.
1986: Awarded the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship.
1988: Sealaska Heritage Foundation produced a documentary about her life and work.
Her work was featured in many exhibitions, including “Tlingit Aanee”, Harvard Museum of Natural History.
This MCC painting shows Jennie's daughter dancing as she wears Jennie"s last blanket. The blankets in the middle area are representations of some of Jennie's work, but not exact copies or photographs. These are Jennie's alone and MCC can only truthfully present an essence of their contents.
Please Google “Jennie Thlunaut” to discover more information about this very special woman.
“Jennie Thlunaut, Chilkat Weaver"
24"H x 20" W
Mixed Medium: acrylic paints, inks & craypas pastels on Bristol Board
Photo by SkyLark Images
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