Jeanne Kent: Gourd Art
Jeanne Kent was named Spozowialakws (Morningstar) by an Abenaki Elder
many years ago. It means: "One who leads others out of the darkness
into the light...a teacher.
She is descended from Abenaki, Nipissing, Montagnais, and Algonquin
People form the Quebec area of Canada. Her father was French and Indian,
her mother German. At age 64, she is the grandmother of four from her
son and daughter.
Her art work contains Native American symbols and designs of the
Northeast Woodland People with focus on the Wabanaki group. Her medium
is gourd art. Currently, she is working on a series of gourd designs
which she hopes will provide a visual language for the woodland People .
She has received both state and national awards and participated in one
man shows and group shows through out CT, NY, NH and MA. She holds a
Batchelor of Fine Arts Degree and a Master in Art Education from the
University of Hartford. Additional courses were taken at Johnson
College, VT; Smith College, MA; Trinity College and Yale Campuses, CT,
and the Woodstock School of Art, NY. She taught art in public schools
for twenty years transversing levels from kindergarten to college. As
teacher and artist. she has given inservices on Native crafts and
history, to educators and offered courses at the University of Hartford
Extension Service. She has also lectured on tracing Native ancestry and
her gourd work.
She served on a board for Native American Youth in CT, and continues to
strive to help youngsters learn about their culture. She has twice
placed second in Women's Traditional Dancing and continues to teach
young women the stories of the dances as well as the movements.
She currently serves as an interpreter at the Institute for American
Indian Studies, Washington, CT, where she has also lectured and given
workshops. One of her gourd rattles is presently part of the permanent
collection of the Chimney Point Museum (VT) where she has also been a
guest demonstrator. Most recently, two of her rattles and a bowl were
acquired by the Roger Williams University (RI) as part of a permanent
collection on campus.
"I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil," she said.
"Once I made a mark, I never stopped experimenting."
Her work has been shown at the Millbrook Gallery and Sculpture Garden
(NH), the Artworks Gallery, (CT), McDaniels-Wiley Gallery, (CT), the
Gallows Book Store and Gallery at Trinity College(CT) and the Bushnell
Theater Gallery (CT). She was invited to participate in an invitational
group show in Boxboro (MA) at the New England Native American Institute
which hosted the show:"Walking Between Two Worlds." One of her
photographs was selected for the cover of the Connecticut Commission of
the Arts, Summer Bulletin. Her work is currently on sale in the gift
shop at the Institute for American Indian Studies and the Millbrook
"Although I am continuously walking between two worlds, I consider
myself fortunate for finding a balance between cultures. My father gave
me the desire to follow my spirit and dream. My mother gave me the
stamina to achieve my dreams."
Morningstar was introduced to gourds through a teacher's seminar. At the
time she placed both the gourd she had started and the book she
purchased, on a shelf and did not look at them again. Years later, her
hands were injured by a student and she spent three years going through
surgery and rehabilitation. It became apparent she would not be able to
do the fine drawings she had done before the incident.
One day, she came across the gourd and the book, took it down and
realized there was no way to do the work as demonstrated with hand
tools. But, after exploring online gourd sites, she became aware of the
many power tools available and was off experimenting once more. She now
carves, paints, creates filagree backgrounds, and wood burns them to
create the desired effects.
"There is something wonderful about putting one's hands into the
soil to plant the seed, nurturing it until the blossoms form, then
protecting them until they develop into natural canvases upon which to
work my art, " she said. "I will be forever grateful to the
principal (Greg Dowd) who sent me to that workshop. Working with gourds
is a combination of my art and heritage bound together in a spiritual
journey with Mother Earth."