The beadwork of artist Jessica Leigh Gokey, a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Band of Lake Superior Indians, will be on exhibit at the United States Embassy in the Vatican in Rome, Italy.
Gokey’s artwork, “A Dance with Florals,” will be on display as part of the Art in Embassies program of the U.S. Department of State (art.state.gov/). U.S. Ambassador Joe Donnelly and Mrs. Donnelly chose Gokey’s work to be displayed in the embassy in Rome for the duration of his tenure as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.
“I am incredibly honored to be a part of the Art in Embassies program,” Gokey said. “My goal while participating in this prestigious program is to show the world that traditional Native American arts should be viewed as Fine Art instead of craft or folk art. My people’s art forms take years to master and incredible discipline and skill; they should be acclaimed with mainstream art of today.”
Robert Aiudi, Gokey’s representative, spoke about the significance of her selection.
“We are so excited for Jess, as she is highly deserving of this honor, not only for herself but also for the Native American community as a whole as well as the entire country,” Aiudi said. “She is an awesome representative for all American artists today.”
Another Gokey piece, “Native Food Table Accent,” is currently on exhibit at the Minnesota Historical Society, which it acquired as part of its permanent collection in 2015.
Gokey has been working as a traditional beadwork artist for more than 10 years and is fast becoming an artist of prominence, selling pieces to collectors and institutions. She combines her artistic skills and knowledge of Ojibwe traditions to produce pieces that reflect the values of her people. Her work is on display on her website and is also available for purchase, both original pieces and high-quality prints.