MMIWQT: THE BEAD PROJECT

MMIWQT is an unwieldy acronym for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Queer & Trans people, but it represents a stark reality: Native communities suffer terrible, unexplained losses every year. In Canada alone, for example, the number of missing and murdered indigenous women exceeded 4,000 in 2016 (according to the Native Women's Association of Canada); and at-risk individuals continue to disappear from their homelands without a trace.

In an effort to draw attention to this dire situation, artist Cannupa Hanska Luger is creating a monumental portrait, using more than 4,000 large, handmade clay beads. Up until April 1, 2018, concerned communities are asked to make and donate as many beads as possible (uniformly 2" in diameter, made from white clay), which Luger will stain and assemble into a pixilated representation of an image by First Nations photographer Kali Spitzer.

As a proud supporter of this remarkable project, Santa Fe Clay is providing Luger and his team with unlimited quantities of discounted white clay, as well as full access to our work spaces and kilns. Anyone wishing to donate beads to the project can follow these basic instructions, bearing in mind that each bead represents an individual from an indigenous community who's been lost.

  • Cut a 2” thick slab of white clay into 2” squares
  • By hand, roll each square into a circular bead form
  • Add the hole in the center (optional), making sure it is 1/4” wide in the bead's center
  • Let dry (if you have access to a kiln, you may fire the beads to bisque, but this is not required)
  • Pack and send (before April 1st) to:

Cannupa Hanska Luger
Institute of American Indian Arts
Ceramic Department
83 A Van Nu Po
Santa Fe, NM 87508

Cannupa Hanska Luger will stain the surfaces of the beads to produce color variations, and assemble them into one enormous, pixilated portrait. Uniformity of surface on the beads (basic, circular 2" forms created by hand from white clay with 1/4" holes) will greatly add to the readability of the finished portrait image.