Elizabeth James-Perry | This artist is a member of SWAIA.org
Elizabeth James-Perry of Dartmouth, Massachusetts is a citizen of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe on the island of Noepe (Marthas Vineyard). Her focus is on time honored and contemporary versions of Northeastern Woodlands Algonquian artistic expressions: Wampum shell beadwork and diplomacy, milkweed plant fiber hand spinning and traditional natural dyework; and a variety of textile weaving techniques including oblique and twining. She wild-harvests common plants and barks for dyes, while growing those plants that have now become rare in Massachusetts woods.
As a member of a Nation that has long lived on and harvested the sea, Elizabeth’s is a perspective that combines art and an appreciation for Native storytelling and traditional environmental knowledge in her ways of relating to coastal North Atlantic life. She grew up listening to family stories, and watching her mother, Patricia, execute tiny whaling scenes on bone scrimshaw. Elizabeth later recounted some of her Wampanoag whaling history in Nancy Shoemaker’s Living with Whales. With a degree in Marine Science from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth 2001, and coursework at Cornell’s satellite campus: Shoals Marine Lab, she has off-shore commercial fisheries research experience. Elizabeth was honored to be a 38th Voyager onboard the historic Charles W. Morgan whaling vessel, as a descendant of the Gay Head/Aquinnah and Christiantown/Manitoowatan tribal crewmembers. Her work has been profiled in Native People’s Magazine, the companion volume for Native Fashion Now, First American Art Magazine, and Dawnland Voices 2.0.
Elizabeth’s art has received national recognition; her wampum collars and patterned twined bags have won awards at the Heard Museum Art Show. In 2014, she received the Traditional Arts Fellowship for textiles and wampum from Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the 2015 Rebecca Blunk Artist Award from the New England Foundation for the Arts.