Penelope S. Minner
Penelope S. Minner
Nation/Clan: Seneca/Turtle Clan
Media: Black ash splint baskets, corn husk dolls
and graphic design, watercolors
In the past, I had opportunties to teach or demonstrate my traditional arts at the SNI Education Dept., SUNY Fredonia, at the Erie County Fair, University of Buffalo cultural events, Routes to Art and the Dunkirk Historical Society, the Fenimore Museum and the Iroquois Indian Musuem. The challenge is to get the raw material, as the Emerald ash borer (beetle) has now infested our area. This will be an issue for the future of basket makers across Indian Country. Keeping the tradition alive by educating and raising awareness of this beautiful art form is one of my goals.
My parents were very artistic, traditional crafts people of their time. My father, Lester Jimerson was a traditional wood carver, mask maker, he made horn rattles and turtle rattles and traditional Seneca head dresses, while my mother, Hazel would make corn husk dolls and corn husk mats and salt bottles. They both have works in the Smithsonian Institute collections. Traditional arts and crafts were common place in our household. I learned much from watching them. I also learned a lot about basket making from my cousin, Midge Dean Stock. I feel that through my talents I am able to share their spirit with others to pass on to the next generation and to those who are willing to learn. Within the last 5 years I have worked within the community to teach black ash splint basket making and corn husk doll making, though I have been practicing the crafts for over 13 years.
The basket making process is time consuming and labor intensive and because of that, many new students find that it’s not for them. Finding a dedicated student to whom I can pass this along and keep the tradition alive is a true pleasure.