Michele Reyes (Diné)

February 19, 2018

An Inspired Natives Collaborator since 2016, Michele Reyes (Diné) is a weaver, photographer, and designer based out of Utah. Along with her husband Kyle, she is the owner and operator of Three Canoes Design. Along with all of her creative pursuits, Michele says her first job is being a mom - and with such a big family, it’s more than a full-time gig. She loves to create gorgeous portraits of newborns and mothers, but the way she connects with her culture is by weaving and making regalia for her family.  

Michele first began learning to weave as a teenager from her grandmother. Not long after, she lost her left arm in a car accident, and thought her weaving days were behind her. Years later, Kyle surprised her with a loom that he’d asked her brother to make. “Determined to figure out a way to make it work for me, I began to weave again. That rug took me quite a while to finish, but when I did it was one of my great accomplishments.”  Now, Michele’s beautiful woven rugs combine traditional Navajo patterns with a style of her own.

 

Michele's Navajo Snowflake earrings

As much as Michele loves weaving, it’s hard work! “I love, love the art of weaving...But I will never be good enough in technique or speed to share [that skill] beyond my immediate family. I learn and weave so I can pass the knowledge down to my children and grandchildren.” That’s one reason Michele says she’s grateful for the opportunity to work with Eighth Generation developing artwork for products: because it’s “void of that all-too-familiar frustration. I can do all the designing and creating with no hindrance because of my physical limitation.” While there’s still a prevalent stereotype around Native-produced goods that associates handmade items with a higher degree of authenticity or artistic ability, Michele notes that for her, “manufacturing ensures quality and success, and it makes things possible for me personally that weren’t possible before.”

Michele's "New Life" throw blanket

With six young children, it takes a lot of planning and discipline to maintain and nurture an art career, so Michele and Kyle keep to a schedule. After the kids go to bed, they sit in their shared studio space and each work on their own artistic projects. The nightly ritual gives them both some much-needed quiet creative time, but also provides time to bond over cultural art as they bounce ideas off each other, share feedback, and push each other to excel. Kyle says “there’s something therapeutic, but also a deep cultural connection - artistically, but also in terms of our relationship - to work on this art together.”

View Michele's growing number of Eighth Generation products here.





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John Isaiah Pepion (Blackfeet Nation)
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Sarah Agaton Howes (Anishinaabe)
Sarah Agaton Howes (Anishinaabe)

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Sarah Agaton Howes is an Anishinaabe artist, teacher, and community organizer from the Fond du Lac Reservation in Minnesota. Widely known for her handmade regalia and moccasins featuring Ojibwe floral designs, Sarah owns and operates her own business, House of Howes. She shares her knowledge by teaching beadwork in her community and beyond through classes and video tutorials. Sarah has been an Inspired Natives Collaborator since 2015.

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Michelle Lowden (Acoma Pueblo)
Michelle Lowden (Acoma Pueblo)

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