Two friends, two weavers, and a contagious passion for exploring the past and present richness of Coast Salish Wool Weaving, Dr. Susan Pavel (sa’ hLa mitSa) and Kelly Sullivan let us hear them check in with one another. Following up months after their Centrum Northwest Heritage Residency, the two swap stories about what they’ve been doing during the pandemic, talk about their roots in becoming a part of the Coast Salish Wool Weaving Center, and what gathering, weaving, and teaching has been like for the past few months. They touch on the ways that gifting and healing are interwoven in the work and in their lives, work, and how they navigate traditional methods in contemporary times. They share challenges and surprises that have come about within these practices amidst a pandemic, as well as the discoveries they have made in their search to tie their resources and teachings to the local communities.
sa’ hLa mitSa, Dr. Susan Pavel first learned Coast Salish Weaving the summer of 1996. Each summer she would produce one ceremonial blanket and then gift it to various elders of the tribe. By the fourth year she was selling the weavings. By the seventh year she was invited to teach weaving classes and has taught over 2,500 students.
She has participated in several solo and group museum exhibits. With public and private collectors across the nation she continues to weave. 2016 marked 20 Years of Coast Salish Wool Weaving for her and more importantly – SQ3Tsya’yay –Weaver’s Spirit Power.
Kelly Sullivan (Port Gamble S’Klallam), is an apprentice Coast Salish Weaver to Dr. Pavel. In 2016 Sullivan learned to weave and began participating with Dr. Pavel in all aspects of weaving; from learning about gathering raw materials, spinning and dying the wool using local plants, then to produce woven pieces of all types with the various techniques. Together, they have helped bring a strong resurgence of Coast Salish wool weaving to the Port Gamble S’Klallam Community where many weavers and teachers are beginning to emerge.
Dr. Pavel and Sullivan were 2020 recepients of Centrum’s Northwest Heritage Residencies, a series of public-facing residencies made possible through a National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” grant. These programs were presented by Centrum in partnership with Fort Worden Public Development Authority (PDA) to support the exploration of place through arts and culture.