After The Storm

Beaded Bandolier Bag by Martha Berry

• Winner: 1st Place, Traditional Beadwork, 10th Annual Cherokee Homecoming Art Show, Cherokee Heritage Center, Tahlequah, OK, October 8, 2005

Size: Approximately 36” H x 16” W x 2” D

Materials: Glass seed beads on wool stroud, cotton. To the extent possible, all materials are authentic to the early 19th century.

Beading this bandolier bag was a very unusual experience for me. Before this one, the vision for the statement that I wanted the bag to make had always come first. The design of the bandolier bag, and the choice of motifs and bead colors, that make that statement would follow that vision.

For the first time, I had the visual impression of what this bag should look like first. I just felt I had to bead it, and I trusted that the meaning and the words would follow.

During the more than 200 hours required to create this bandolier bag, I spent much of the time watching the horrific events that followed Hurricane Katrina unfold as I beaded. My heart broke as I watched the victims of Katrina’s fierceness struggle to survive and escape. Thousands of them found refuge in my own city.

It was then that I realized how much like lightning the strap motifs looked, and how much hope can be found in the flowers that inevitably follow even the worst of storms. So, I entitled the bag AFTER THE STORM. It is dedicated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, but it also symbolizes the hope that follows all of our struggles in life.

Martha Berry