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Rick and Penny Kagigebi

Rick Kagigebi - Artist Statement
I create appliquéd mural blankets where a story is told conveying Ojibwe cultural values. The ability to make blankets,
what I’m shown that turns into blankets – all of it is a gift that I’ve been given. It’s hard to talk about it and I often feel
that people won’t accept the spiritual influence in my artwork.
Going to ceremony as a teenager with my father in 1980, I made my first blanket for giveaway, for healing. Hundreds
upon hundreds of blankets followed. Previously limiting my work to ceremony gifts or private commissions, I’ve
recently been able to show my blankets publicly.
People have told me for many years that the blankets I’ve made help them. I think about who the blanket will go to -
what can I provide through the blanket in order for this person to have a good life? I want to help people get the
blanket they need, tell the story they’re waiting to hear, maybe to heal.
One goal of my designs is to have the audience become more aware of Ojibwe culture. I was once asked why I chose to
become a teacher. My reply was that I did not choose to become a teacher, it chose me. I think the same way about
blankets.
Everything is about those who come after us. I’ve been told that my style of teaching gives a unique freedom, excites
others’ creativity, allowing them to find their gifts. What’s most rewarding is teaching people to wake up the stories
within themselves and to watch them wake up to the beauty of the Ojibwe culture.

Penny Kagigebi  White Earth Ojibwe  
Mashkikiiwaabigwaniin Canister Set – Bezhig –  
(Medicine Flowers Canister Set – One –)  
Referred to by the artist as mini-quillbox canisters, this set begins a new, or perhaps old, variation on quillboxes generally seen today with the re-imagined construction design seen here. Each is constructed with friction-fit for utility however these feature a “jar lid” opening.    

Designed around and titled “Medicine Flowers” to honor mashkiki (strength of the earth) gifted to Anishinaabeg everywhere. Going out to the prairies along the
western edges of the White Earth Reservation in northwest Minnesota to gather traditional foods and mashkiki-medicine plants consumes much of the artist’s free time. The prairie is where she grew up, where she finds beauty and life. As the summer progresses, the artist’s home fills with the presence of these plants.       
The “trails” chasing around each canister represent Ojibwe-cultural respect for the differences and individuality found in each human being.   
 
About the artist  
Funded in part by a 2014 Anishinaabe Arts Grant through the Region 2 Arts Council, Penny spent a week learning quillwork and quillbox construction from renown Ojibwe artist Melvin Losh. Quillboxes have been made as storage containers by Woodlands Indians since the beginning of time - birch bark preserving foods and medicines, sweet grass repelling insects, and porcupine quill “embroidered” designs providing identification of the contents.   Today Penny makes what she calls “slow art” – durable quillboxes painstakingly produced through uncountable hours and intense attention to detail. She has been told her work demonstrates an ethereal quality, allowing one to hold the sacred beauty of the natural world in the palm of their hand.
1 - Gathering of Many Ways.jpg
2 - Portal Into The Wood.jpg
3 - The Forest Guardian.jpg

Gathering of Many Ways – Protections for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Peoples.
NFS
Artist: Rick Kagigebi
Completed: 2020
Size: 84” x 95”
Materials: fabric, batting, sheets, ribbon, yarn, thread, pellon, heat-and-bond
Photo credit: Joseph J. Allen

Portal Into The Wood – For my transgender and gender-diverse relatives – There are places
away from roads and towns where one can pass into protected spaces. Our Creator (the creator of all),
they are all genders and no gender.
NFS
Artist: Rick Kagigebi
Completed: 2021
Size: 84” x 95”
Materials: fabric, batting, sheets, yarn, thread, pellon, heat-and-bond
Photo credit: Joseph J. Allen

The Forest Guardian – Spirits who protect our environment; the original non-binary – Teachings
tell us that the greatest power is held in the smallest being. Bringing acknowledgement and gratitude to
strengthen and restore these helpers.
NFS
Artist: Rick Kagigebi
Completed: 2021
Size: 84” x 95”
Materials: fabric, batting, sheets, yarn, thread, pellon, heat-and-bond
Photo credit: Joseph J. Allen

2 - Penny_Kagigebi, Mashkikiiwaabigwaniin Medicine Flowers Canister Set – 3 piece set 3 in

Mashkikiiwaabigwaniin Canister Set – Bezhig –  
(Medicine Flowers Canister Set – One –)
Artist: Penny Kagigebi