2018 Lab Artist: Judy Dow
Judy Dow is a nationally known activist, basket weaver and teacher of traditional Abenaki culture and native practices. Her baskets have been on exhibit in museums across the United States and Canada, including a recent exhibit at The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. She teaches ethnobotany from kindergarten to college level. She has been widely recognized as an expert on Indian education and an influential guardian of Abenaki history and culture. Judy is the recipient of the 2004 Governor’s Award for Outstanding Vermont Educator. She has lived all her life on Abenaki land in Vermont.
Judy specializes in sharing indigenous knowledge through her teaching and art-making. Her artistic and teaching practices are very closely tied to the land and waterways of Vermont. She has documented and mapped many routes of Native people living off the water and along Lake Champlain’s shores. She recently discovered a direct route that basket makers used along the Connecticut River valley in Vermont dating back to the 1800s. Judy brings a Native American lens to reading the land, teaching science and history, and through her practice an important visibility to lost voices and hidden histories.
During her VPL residency Judy worked with middle school students from the Hilltop Montessori School in Brattleboro and the Vermont River Conservancy to focus on the floodplain restoration of “Sawdust Alley” – an 8-acre parcel along the Whetstone Brook. Students met river experts and regional planners; did hands-on environmental testing and historical research of the site; and engaged with community members who live near the Whetstone to listen to and gather their stories and perspectives on the brook. Students worked with Judy to create maps and shared their research and recommendations through presentations on how to transform the Sawdust Alley site into an ecological and cultural asset for the community.