The Evergreen State College Longhouse Education and Cultural Center has been awarded $500,000 to build a fiber arts studio. The award came from the Ford Foundation, a longtime critical financial backer and partner for the center’s establishment and subsequent expansion.
The idea to construct a fiber arts studio began in the fall of 2013 as the next step in a much larger project. “The longhouse applied for some funding to build a concept that we’re calling the indigenous arts campus,” said the center’s director Tina Kuckkahn-Miller. “The fiber arts studio is the second of four spaces that we plan to build within the campus.”
In a press release, college president Thomas “Les” Purce said, “This project is a testament of our commitment to providing a space for indigenous art and culture within higher education. The Longhouse was the first building of its kind on any college campus in the nation, and we’re excited to take this next step.”
The decision to build a fiber arts facility was easy, given the history of cultural art in South Sound.
“In the Pacific Northwest, the primary cultural art-forms are carving and weaving,” said Kuckkahn-Miller. “We had already built the carving studio so we wanted a companion to that that would feature the art of weaving. We’re calling it fiber arts, though, so that it’s even broader than that.”
One of the more interesting aspects of the project is the way in which, through its construction, it forges a stronger bond between native people across the Pacific Rim.
“What will make the studio really special is that fiber arts studio is going to pay tribute architecturally and artistically to our relationship to the Maori people of New Zealand,” said Kuckkahn-Miller. “The government of New Zealand is actually sending out (Maori artist) Lyonel Grant, who has designed meeting houses in New Zealand.”
Northwest architect John Paul Jones will work on the design with Grant. Jones designed the current Longhouse as well as the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
The new studio is projected to open May 2016.