Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Artist Profile: Sydney Jacobs


Artist Sydney Jacobs. Her artwork is featured on Facebook under the name, Ken'niwá:á.

By Mahlon Smoke

There is a philosophy that exists throughout our community that what we do now will affect the next seven generations. Something that this current generation will keep in their minds as they grow and improve the community. One person who does this through her designs and projects is Sydney Jacobs. All through her life she has been drawing and pursuing artistic endeavors. In recent years she designed beading patterns for people, stickers and designed dresses that are inspired by Mohawk Culture, something of a modern ribbon dress.

Jacobs, as an artist, wishes to incorporate her culture into her work, taking into consideration that Akwesasne has changed during her time on this Earth. She not only looks to the designs from pottery to artwork, but also checks the history behind that very design. Because of this, in an upcoming work, she is doing a design that includes the Three Sisters, in her unique style, making the sisters human that embody the plant they represent. A different representation of the three sisters, but one that is unique and still pays tribute to the story of the three sisters, as they exist as spirits.

While this is only one of her upcoming projects, Jacobs also created a website to showcase and sell her designs. It is called Ken'niwa:a, meaning "little" in Mohawk. Currently she has art prints for beading patterns and stickers, quilts with her original designs, as well as clothing from her growing line. But she doesn't plan to stop there.

Sydney's paper doll style print features a young girl in modern regalia with a feather fan and horn rattle.

In the long term, she plans to give back to the community through books of her own creation that will help children learn Mohawk through immersion techniques. She will supply the art and is considering hiring someone to help her write the books but is still in the process of creating the curriculum for schools to use. Said curriculum is being developed to engage all children, including children who may be struggling with a disability like dyslexia, through her stories and art. She said that you need a good story and good art to engage. Something that she hopes that these books will do as it will follow the immersion techniques used in many Mohawk Language classes. She finds this is the best way to learn the language and hopes that these books will expand that teaching style.

Jacobs is always creating and updating many traditional designs without going too far. She will always be inspired and incorporate her culture into her work. As she also follows the philosophy of the next seven generations and hopes that her work will influence them, like the last seven generation's art and legacy inspired her and many artists just like her.

Photos from Ken'niwa:a Facebook Page


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