Ruth Porter, Ojibwe Artist and Teacher, Speaks to Students During Common Experience
November 28, 2022
On Monday, November 28, Ruth Porter, Ojibwe artist and teacher, spoke to students during Common Ex. Common Ex is a series of presentations where students hear about the artistic life from practicing artists, many of whom are Perpich graduates. For this session, we were happy to welcome Ruth who is the parent of current Perpich student, Rhonda Hoagland (Visual Arts, 2024).
Porter, a special education and Anishinaabemowin language teacher at North Woods School in Cook, MN, is a skilled beader. In an interview with The Timberjay, she said, “I started beading when I was young. Now there are very few Bois Forte beaders left, especially young ones.”
Ruth is from the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. She often sells her artwork at pow wows around Minnesota. Her beadwork and beaded regalia is made to order. Projects can take weeks to complete. She said she usually only tackles larger projects in the summer, when she has more time, and works on smaller projects, like earrings, during the school year.
Porter started sewing at the start of the pandemic. The powwows were canceled so there weren’t opportunities to sell her beading. Masks were hard to find at that time so Ruth saw a need she could fill. Later she started sewing ribbon skirts. Brightly-colored ribbon skirts are a traditional piece of clothing for many Native American women and girls. They are made of cotton with satin ribbons.
Ruth plans on getting her Small Business License soon which will allow her to sell beads and supplies in addition to her finished pieces. By serving as a supplier in her community, she hopes to spark interest in the art of beading and sewing, especially with young people.