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Maggie Thompson's Makwa Studio

The textile artist challenges perceptions of Native American fashion with her knitted accessories

by Nara Shin
on 18 February 2016

Minneapolis-based textile artist Maggie Thompson has been grappling with ideas, perceptions and systems of authenticity from the moment she was born. With a Native American father and an Irish-German mother, she's met with questions every step of the way regarding her identity as Native American. The RISD alum (and member of the Fond du Lac Ojibwe tribe) offers answers—through her fine art works—to the challenging limitations of what "native art" should or should not be. Further, Thompson more recently realized that hats and scarfs can make their own subtle statement too, all the while keeping the wearer warm and happy. Her brand, Makwa Studio ("makwa" meaning "bear" in the Ojibwe language; her father's family belonged to the Makwa Clan), doesn't make headdresses or so-called "Navajo chic" sweaters. Instead, Thompson knits accessories with unique designs, rooted in her experiences as a modern Native American woman. It's contemporary, meaningful and above all, extremely wearable.

Thompson, who also works as gallery director at Two Rivers Gallery (part of the Minneapolis American Indian Center), recently received a Jerome Fiber Artist Project Grant from the MN Textile Center to research and develop her own clothing line, which we're excited to keep an eye out for. Shop Thompson's accessories online at Makwa Studio's webshop, where prices start at $48. Because everything is made to order by Thompson herself, take note of the production time.

Images courtesy of Makwa Studio

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