Creating connection and collaborating with as many members of the community as possible is a founding principle for the Community Art Collaborative. So, when co-founder Meclina Gomes realized that childhood connection was the voice behind the Herring Pond Wampanoag Instagram account it was serendipitous. Over the coming months, we spoke and shared experiences with tribe members, we discussed how we could collaborate through art and storytelling in a way that was meaningful and authentic to the tribe and CAC. Melissa Ferretti, Chairwoman of the Herring Pond Wampanoag and her fellow tribe members are “Committed to ensuring that our history, our achievements, and our goals as a Tribe are known to the non-Native public, and particularly to educators, residents, and civic leaders in Plymouth and Barnstable counties and North America as a whole.”
With this objective in mind, we invited other members of the community to our conversations and had heartfelt open discussions about how to ensure we were respectful and how to make space for an important part of our community which few people are aware of.
We now have a number of projects together underway, our first is “Illuminating Stories” , developed by leaders of the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe in partnership with the Community Art Collaborative, the Plymouth Public Schools-VPA, the Plymouth Bay Cultural District and the Pilgrim Hall Museum. Leaders of the organizations came together to talk about how we could impart the stories of the tribe in a way that respected the traditions and also created an opportunity for learning and engagement in the community. There seemed no better place to start than, with our students and those who teach them.
The team settled on a 3-day workshop for students with stories and historic information shared by Melissa Ferretti, Chairwoman, Kathleen Gately and Jennifer Harding-members and educators of the Herring Pond Tribe. The workshop opened with Jennifer Harding welcoming the students and teachers and conducting a traditional sage ceremony. Melissa Ferretti shared the history of Dina’s Path as the group entered the sanctuary. The students collected berries, plants and other natural artifacts to inform and create their art. We were also joined by Donna Curtin, Executive Director of the Pilgrim Hall Museum. Donna shared insight on the process of curating an exhibit with the students.
The students then, returned to the classrooms and talked further with Jennifer, Kathleen and Melissa about the history, culture and stories to inform the creation of their art. The art was created under the direction of Meclina Gomes, CAC co-founder, Lauren Jezierski and Rushell Kwong, Art Educators for the Plymouth Public Schools.
The art reflects the stories of how the land came to be created, the importance of nature and wildlife, the seasons. Each of our student artists has created an accompanying artist statement that can be viewed alongside the art itself. We are also pleased to have contributions to the art from tribe members as part of our “In This Together” series; this art will also be featured. Two notable contributions come from tribe member Quincy Harding, a recent graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design her art will be featured at Pilgrim Hall and is also part of the “Perseverance” installation at Hedge House earlier this summer and soon, to be re-installed on the Plymouth Town Green for the month of November.
To learn more about the rich heritage of the Herring Pond Wampanoag tribe who are also identified in historical documents as Patuxet, Comassakumkanit, The Herring Pond Indians, The Pondville Indians, Manomet, and The Praying Indians click here.
The next chapter of this collaboration, culminated in a 1-day workshop with the Herring Pond Tribe, the Plymouth Public Schools Art Department and the Community Art Collaborative where the organizations shared information, teachers asked questions and co-created art together. The goal of the workshop is to connect the Herring Pond Tribe with the wider Plymouth Public Schools Art Education community so, more regular collaboration can take place creating greater awareness and inclusion of the heritage and art of the Herring Pond Wampanoag and Native Peoples through direct engagement with those who understand it best the tribe leaders and members themselves.
We have a number of projects in development for 2022 and encourage you to connect with CAC, Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, the VPA and Plymouth Bay Cultural District please feel free to contact us directly or follow along on Instagram.
And don’t forget to visit Pilgrim Hall located at 75 Court Street in Plymouth, MA to see “Illuminating Stories” featuring beautiful, informative and thought-provoking art from members of the tribe and student artists no through January 2022.