Spider Woman/Emerging Woman
In the Spring of 2015, my mother left this world. I believe she joined our ancestors, her mother, sister, brothers, and friends in the cosmos, to reside forever in the Milky Way. This is what we are told, that as Kiowas, our people were born from the underworld and on passing, join the sky world in the swirling stars of our galaxy. I always called her “Woman”. People thought I was rude for addressing her this way in private and in public. But I meant this word, this way to address my mother, as a title of ultimate respect. She was Woman: the woman that created me in her body; the woman that nurtured me and raised me into the human being I am today; the woman that is my blood link to all those Kiowa women that came before me and who helped to create this world I was born into.
These red shoes are my first work after my beloved Mother left us. The figures on the sides of these shoes represent two of the Kiowa’s first and most important female beings. The first is Spider Woman, the being that survived the flood with Grandpa Snake, the grandmother who raised our sacred Sun Boys, the creator of the first lullaby—a song my grandmother sung to my mother, my mother sung to me and I breathed into my sons. The second figure is the Mother, a human woman who was the wife of the Sun and the mother of the sacred Sun Boys. She is the mother who sacrificed her life so that her child should know and serve his people.
My mother, Jeri Ah-be-hill, is and will always remain my muse. She gave me life and the knowledge to move through this world as a proper Gkoy-goo mah, Kiowa woman. At night, when I look into the Milky Way, I think of Spider Woman, of the Sun Boys and their mother. And now, forever in those swirling stars, I feel Woman, my beloved mother.
Collection of Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art
Dimensions: L-9.5”, H-9.5”, 3.5” Each Shoe
Medium: 13/0 Czech cut beads, 12/0 Czech beads, stamped sterling silver, seed
pearls, faceted jade, faceted garnets, rose quartz, Swarovski crystals, heeled shoes