NEFA is partnering once again with the Northeast Indigenous Arts Alliance to support New England Native artists participating in this year’s market. We hope to see you there.

As we rapidly approach summer 2019, this is an indicator on many Native artists’ calendar that it is time for the Abbe Museum Indian Market. What an exciting time and fantastic way to thaw out from a chilly spring and mark the transition into a beautiful summer season!

Three people pose and smile.
(from left) Endawnis Spears, Dawn Spears, and Geo Neptune

Last year I had the honor of attending the inaugural market as an emerging artist sponsored by the New England Foundation for the Arts and the Northeast Indigenous Arts Alliance. It. Was. Awesome. I was a total Bar Harbor rookie. And while some of my family regaled me with tales of how beautiful and unreal the landscape is, and how fun the vibes are in the area, I had never made the pilgrimage myself. “It is so gorgeous there! And so much fun! You have to go!”, they would say. Mm-hm. Yeah. I’m busy and ain’t nobody got time for that. But boy, was I wrong for not heeding their sage advice! So wise.

In the weeks prior to the market I busied myself making my inventory- obscenely large graphic art earrings that combine pop culture and indigenous aesthetics. When it came time to pack up our little crew, my husband, our three children and I (two months pregnant at the time!) drove through the night.  We arrived early in the morning in Bar Harbor and were greeted by an unspeakably beautiful sunrise over fresh water lakes and mountainous horizons. That was when I knew we were in for an incredible cultural experience.

My daughter and I loved spending time with a select group of artists and guests at the cocktail reception Friday evening- the perfect place to have conversations with people from around the country and make new friends! The days of the market were absolutely perfect as more than 5,000 visitors, collectors, friends and family poured onto the green in downtown Bar Harbor.  My little family was in tow and we could not be happier as parents when we are able to spend the day with our children in a safe and comfortable space that honors art, culture and education. Everyone in our family loved our time there!

For me, the highlight of our weekend was the Fashion Show on Saturday afternoon. Decontie & Brown, Aconav, Dawn Spears, and OxDx represented the vibrancy of our dynamic and resilient Indigenous cultures as each designer’s portion of the show was punctuated by powwow dancers in full regalia. Everything from haute couture to streetwear was showcased for market goers lining the winding, grand, “runway” through the thick of the marketplace itself. 

There are important and long standing Indian markets across the country. I am Diné and was born and raised in my mother’s homeland in Arizona. I have attended the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market and the Santa Fe Indian Market and these are important and vital reflections of the landscape they are situated in. The flavor of the Abbe Museum Indian Market is unique unto itself - it is a strong representation of the Wabanaki people whose occupied territory we are allowed to travel and stay in while in Bar Harbor. At the same time the Market attracts superior artists from across the United States and Canada. Where else in the northeast can you chat with an Acoma clothing designer, hear a traditional Passamaquoddy story, watch a Penobscot artist transform the gifts of the landscape into fine art, and take home with you a piece of this lived experience in the form of something hand made with culture, love and intention?

Check out this terrific Boston Globe article for more about the Inaugural Abbe Museum Indian Market. Don’t miss the 2nd annual Abbe Museum Indian Market on May 17-19!