Monday, July 11, 2011

tepee love

So for the past three weeks I have been preparing for my Afrikaburn/burning man themed graduation party.  In honor of burning man I had to build something and after seeing this DIY tepee on Honestly..WTF the seed was planted in my head. From that point on I was determined to build my own tepee. It was easier than I expected but still a lot of work building a 13 foot tepee. Since I couldn't afford canvas I built the tepee cover completely of scrap fabric: jeans, table cloth, my old Star Wars sheets, red velvet, dresses, and more! My dad and I went into the forest and cut down trees that soon became tepee poles. Then two hours of labor setting up the tepee with family the morning of my party and it was done! Here are some photos of the process of the tepee construction.

photo by Arvolyn Hill
Isn't it great! I am not gonna burn it through, which would be true burning man style if I did. I prefer to have it as my new summer chill spot. Also below was my inspiration for my homemade tepee.

Gee's Bend Quilts:
Gee's Bend is a poor tenant community in Alabama. Located on the edge of the Black Belt in Wilcox County, enclosed by three sides on the Alabama River. Many slaves who worked on the plantation in Gee's Bend never left the area and stayed in the isolated community. Gee's Bend has received world wide attention for their infamous quilts created by the women in the community. The quilts have been shown in exhibits in the Whitney Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia is where I saw their work and fell in love with the history of Gee's Bend and the quilts. For a college creative writing class I wrote a story that I made up about a girl who was from Gee's Bend and moved to DC, thats how obsessed I am with these quilts. Also my Uncle Vaughn makes quilts very similar to these  even more extreme that I grew up with on my bed. So maybe its just fate that I made a Gee's Bend inspired tepee.

photos from google
Of coarse the Native American tepees themselves were fascinating to me. I felt like having your own tepee would be like the ultimate fort. Yes I just graduated from college, and still love forts! I live across the river from the Schaghticoke reservation, and though its so close, the town and reservation are isolated from one another. I think a lot of Native American history has been static in how we remember it and there are gaps between the way it was in the photos below and today. Regardless I love these old photos of tepees because its a side of American history that is gone.

photos from google

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