story quilt, Mohawk creation story

Tsi Kiontahsawen / In the Beginning, a Virtual Exhibition

The Richard F. Brush Art Gallery at St. Lawrence University is pleased to announce the purchase of an extraordinary quilt by Akwesasne Mohawk artist Iakonikonriiosta. Produced in conjunction with the fall 2020 North Country Art, Land, and Environment Summit, sponsored by SLU’s Arts Collaborative, the quilt illustrates part of the Haudenosaunee Creation Story.

detail of quilt

Iakonikonriiosta writes that the quilt depicts “the moment the spiritual Water Birds and Water Animals watched as the Sky Woman, heavy with child, gave thanks and placed primordial soil filled with life onto the Great Turtle’s shell.” The artist also writes, “The One Dish One Spoon wampum belt depicted in the middle of the quilt reminds us that all of Earth’s resources are to be shared by all life, not to be hoarded, not to be fought over, and not to be over used. One takes what is needed and no more, always ensuring that there are resources left for those that follow.”

Measuring 96 x 86 inches and made of cotton, wool, leather, and polyester thread, the quilt was conceptualized and designed by Iakonikonriiosta of Akwesasne Territory and machine-quilted by Robynne Dorion of Cornwall, Ontario.

quilt detail

Iakonikonriiosta is a mother and grandmother of a large family. She currently works at the Akwesasne Museum and quilts as an expression of love and life. She uses her quilts to share her insights, often speaking to gatherings of people interested in art, quilts, or indigenous culture.

Gallery Director Catherine Tedford states that the quilt is one of the most significant art acquisitions in the 30 years she has worked at St. Lawrence and an excellent example of Haudenosaunee culture represented artistically using innovative sewing techniques. The quilt will be displayed on campus to be shared with the community and to be used for teaching and research.

story quilt, Mohawk creation story

In the Beginning, concept and design by Iakonikonriiosta, Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, machine quilted by Robynne Dorion, Cornwall, Ontario, 86x96 in., 2020

About the artist

woman's hands with quilting material

Iakonikonriiosta is a mother and grandmother of a large family. She currently works as the manager for the Native North  American Traveling College in Akwesasne and quilts as an expression of love and life. She uses her quilts to share her insights, often speaking to gatherings of people interested in art, quilts, or indigenous culture. She grew up in Syracuse, New York, and moved to Akwesasne as a young woman to support the Mohawk Nation in the ongoing struggle to maintain a strong presence in the north country.

Iakonikonriiosta was one of the founding teachers of the Akwesasne Freedom School and continues to support the school as a grandmother. She lives with her husband in Akwesasne, and  he supports her artwork by adding depth to the designs she brings to life. They both love watching their family grow.