It seems Covid-19 has, not surprisingly, affected my art. In many ways, the months of isolation brought the opportunity to entertain some long-awaited projects, which in the normal day to day progression of my work would have remained on the back shelf. So, while the pandemic has been extremely tragic and disruptive to my community, I must count myself blessed in this area. We believe the Creator can have a laugh on us when things are going well, the same remains true when we are suffering. My downtime produced two of the three pieces for this show. The final piece, a beaded mask, was a challenge of sorts, in answer to the pandemic. Miigwetch in advance to the Brinton Museum for the opportunity to participate in this show.” Carrie McCleary

Morning Glory Cuffs- I wanted to bead a pair of ‘cowboy cuffs’ for a couple of years. Growing up an Uncle of mine still wore these old-style cuffs, thus protecting the sleeves on the shirts my Auntie made for him. Uncle’s cuffs were made from a stiffer leather but were also fabric lined and had laces for fastening.  A leatherworking friend cut out this pattern for me with a ‘beadwork window’ in it as requested. This window is the key to bringing the pattern to a Best Dressed Dude – format. These cuffs will not protect your Sunday shirt; but they will set the wearer apart at any gathering!  The cuffs are made from leather, felt, trade cloth wool, and glass beads. My six-year-old granddaughter naturally assumes the cuffs have supernatural powers and had to yield them upon completion!

Beaded Conch Belt- The right side of my desk calendar has a column listing all my to-do projects. I transfer this unfinished work and ideas list month to month. Beaded Concho Belt? It has been on the transfer list for more than a year! Indians are kind of funny in that we really admire each other’s art, but we always want to put our own twist on it. This is my take on the beautiful conch belts made by silver workers of Southwestern tribes and Pueblos. I started this project at home on the Crow Reservation but completed most of it while taking care of my mom at her home after she had taken a fall. She had a lot to say about this project, and it was very special to work on it under her watchful eye.  I call this my Prairie Rose pattern; it is beaded in what we call a one needle flat stitch technique. Many folks in Wyoming are familiar with the Shoshone Rose, this is her cousin from the Northern Prairies! The conches are adjustable, and the new owner could certainly change the belt to suit their size or tastes, but it will remain a very striking piece.

Floral Face Mask– When the Covid-19 pandemic hit I was returning from an extraordinary trip to the Chicago Field Museum for the opening of an exhibit of Apsaalooke works. Spending a week with fellow artists and respected elders in such an unfamiliar setting; feeling like we were staging an Indigenous takeover of a city of 2.7 million was exhilarating and historic. We paraded on horseback across the University Chicago Campus in full regalia, held dances and ceremonies at the Field Museum, went to Blues clubs, and took selfies in the streets with strangers who stopped us with inquiries. Then the world stopped. The trip home included bottles of hand sanitizer and gloves, but never did I imagine we would be wearing life saving face masks soon. This mask is dedicated to an elder on that trip who has now traveled to the other side camp. He had Covid 19. This non-medical mask is made from deer buckskin, glass beads and lined with a satin fabric featuring photographs of my beadwork. I will never forget our trip, the last before the world changed. And I will always honor this elder, a veteran, a grandfather, a teacher of humanity and a kind man.

Carrie McCleary