Sustaining Traditions-Digital Memories

Copied Kelly Church, Sustaining Traditions-Digital Memories, 2018, black ash, sweetgrass, rit, copper, vial EAB, flashdrive, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Decorative Arts and Crafts Endowment, 2020.49A-B, © 2018, Kelly Church

Artwork Details

Sustaining Traditions-Digital Memories
9 12 × 4 12 in. (24.1 × 11.4 cm)
© 2018, Kelly Church
Credit Line
Museum purchase through the Decorative Arts and Crafts Endowment
Mediums Description
black ash, sweetgrass, rit, copper, vial EAB, flashdrive
  • Allegory — other — memory
Object Number

Artwork Description

Kelly Church is from an unbroken line of Anishinaabe basket makers. Along with her family, she harvests and processes the materials for her work. Sustaining Traditions—Digital Memories is a basket that carries the past, present, and future teachings of this art. Woven with black ash and Michigan-sourced copper, the radiant green color alludes to the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle that has decimated black ash trees in over twenty-three US states and two Canadian provinces. When opened, the basket reveals a sealed glass vial with the carcass of the beetle. It also contains a computer flash drive with directions on how to harvest and prepare black ash for weaving, in case those traditions are lost without access to healthy trees.


This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World, 2022


Quilt featuring the portrait of a woman
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World
May 13, 2022April 2, 2023
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World showcases the dynamic landscape of American craft today. The exhibition highlights the role that artists play in our world to spark essential conversations, stories of resilience, and methods of activism—showing us a more relational and empathetic world. It centers more expansive definitions and acknowledgments of often-overlooked histories and contributions of women, people of color, and other marginalized communities.