Dana Warrington dives into quillwork fulltime
By Andrea Richard
So far 2017 has been a big year for artist and quillworker Dana Warrington. This summer, Warrington will show for the first time at the Santa Fe Indian Market, which he credits as a major source of inspiration.
“When I left the Santa Fe Indian Market last August, I knew that was where my life would go,” he says. “So, I pursued quillwork fulltime. One thing led to another.”
Porcupine quillwork has been called a uniquely North American art form with the quills used as appliqués, embroidery and wraps.
Born in Wisconsin and an enrolled member of Menominee/Prairie Band Potawatomi, he began beading when he was around 8, got serious about it at 16, and then picked up quillwork in 2011. “It was pow wow dancing that led me to it,” he says. “I started making my own dance outfits. I tried different things and my mom said, ‘If you learn how to make it, you can have anything you want.’”
Now living in Cherokee, North Carolina, with his wife and daughter, he had no idea that the decorative art would turn into a business, one which he works on at odd hours. He likes the flexibility of being an artist. He can work late night, early morning, whenever inspiration strikes, he says.
Working with quills, like needles, can be a tricky process that requires skill. “Quills come from porcupines. Working with needles, you are going to get poked. The more and more I got poked, I took it as a sign to have respect for what I do.”
His grandmother, who passed 2 and half years ago, continues to inspire his art.
“This craft honors her legacy,” he says. “I started to realize that I was doing more than quillwork. I was doing artwork. Now every piece I do has a story about it. The colors and what this means to me. It’s a living art.” ♦