Ononkwashon: a/​Medicine Plants

  • Marlana Thompson, Ononkwashon: a/Medicine Plants, 2020, black velveteen, red flannel, Czech seed beads, sweetgrass, sage, and leather, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2020.29.3, © April 28, 2020, Marlana Thompson

Strawberries, white pine, and cedar are some of the medicinal foods and plants gathered by members of the Mohawk Nation. Marlana Thompson, an Akwesasne Mohawk artist and regalia maker, beaded images of those medicines on her face mask. She added white sky domes” on the bottom to represent prayers for her three children. For more protection, she sewed pieces of sweetgrass and sage inside the mask. Thompson has beaded since the age of seven and uses the artform to convey Mohawk culture and history.

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World, 2022

Verbal Description

A face mask of black velvet trimmed in rows of small, colorful beads and decorated with strawberries, flowers, and other plants. In the top left corner, embroidered white beads form “C-19,” and, below that, “2020.” Directly underneath, in the bottom left corner, a white beaded “sky dome” is made up of a simple half circle with a spout-like line of beads coming out of the top. Next to it, at right, several long lines of turquoise beads radiate from a few short orange lines. They reach outward and toward the center of the mask. Another white sky dome sits at the bottom center, and another one sits at the bottom right corner.

Nine strawberries are scattered across the mask. Most are small and two have long, curling green stems. A larger strawberry is embroidered at the top, just left of the center nose bridge. A flower with rounded white petals and a yellow center sits at the other side, just right of center. Below the flower, near the bottom right of the mask, is a pine tree embroidered in green beads. Finally, lining the edge of the mask are neat rows of beads in yellow, orange, red, and white, on the outermost edge. Within the bottom band is a rope of braided sweetgrass with a few colored beads placed throughout. Bright white leather straps attached to the mask contrast with the soft black background of the mask itself.

Ononkwashon: a/​Medicine Plants
Overall: 5 x 51 341 78 in. Mask: 5 x 9 181 78 in. Right upper tie: 21 14 in. Right lower tie: 13 in. Left upper tie: 21 34 in. Left lower tie: 12 in.
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund

Mediums Description
black velveteen, red flannel, Czech seed beads, sweetgrass, sage, and leather
  • Dress – accessory
  • Object – foliage
  • Object – flower
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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