Pendleton Weavers Series: Wendy Ponca’s Cradleboard

Wendy Ponca is a renowned Osage Indian fine artist. She studied art at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM, with more studies in NYC and Greece.

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She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Fiber Arts from the Kansas City Art institute, and a Baster’s degree in art therapy at Southwestern College of Santa Fe. She has taught fine arts at IAIA and UNLV, and worked as a costume designer for the Santa Fe Opera. She also founded Native Uprising, a collective of Native American artists, designers, and models.

Throughout Ponca’s career as an artist, designer and educator, she has designed and shown her own lines that demonstrate her skills in draping, tailoring, beadwork, jewelry, silk-screen printing, ribbon work, body and textile painting.

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Her work marries traditional elements like shells and buckskin with new materials like reflective Mylar, to reflect the Earth and Sky moieties of her Osage people. Her work is exhibited in museums across the US. Her vibrant ready-to-wear clothing line is available at wendyponca.com.

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She has designed several blankets for Pendleton Woolen Mills, including a four-blanket limited edition series in 1995. Her latest is Morning Cradleboard, 2019’s addition to Pendleton’s Weavers Series.

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This child-sized blanket uses a pattern inspired by finger-woven straps used to secure a baby in a traditional Osage cradleboard. Ponca often creates designs that are tactical by intent, offering Nature’s protection. In Osage, the cradleboard is called o-olo-psha, or “follow-trail-of-animals.” The cradleboard was the beginning of the Road of Life as followed by animals to water and food. People take this same path, beginning life as completely dependent, and working step-by-step to self-sufficiency. As the cradleboard protects the baby, this blanket surrounds a child with warmth and safety on the path to growing up.

See the blanket here: Morning Cradleboard

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