Teri Rofkar was awarded a National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Heritage Fellowship in May 2009. The fellowship is considered the highest award for traditional folk arts and crafts in the United States. Recipients are considered “living cultural treasures.”
As a Tlingit spruce-root basket weaver, Teri Rofkar holds firmly to the ancestry of her culture’s basketry tradition as the materialization of a relationship between Tlingit people and the spirits of the plants and animals from which they harvest the materials used in their weavings. Teri’s baskets utilize Alaska’s indigenous resources such as spruce root, maidenhair fern, cedar, and grass to produce the traditional twining and plaiting weaving techniques of the Tlingit tribe.
“I am following the steps of my Ancestors, striving to recapture the woven arts of an indigenous people. The ancient ways of gathering spruce root, with respect for the tree’s life and spirit, are a rich lesson in today’s world. Traditional methods of gathering and weaving natural materials help me link past, present, and future. — Links with a time when things were slower paced, a time when even a child’s berry basket was decorated with care. It is through sharing and exploring that this old art form shall take on new life.”
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