Anishinaabe / Canada
Marlene Kwandibens is an Ojibway from Whitesand First Nation on the northern shores of Lake Nipigon. Currently living in Sault Ste. Marie, Marlene is a self-taught bead artist in the Delica bead medium. Marlene has also used fabric in creating art pieces and creating ceremonial skirts. Marlene has been practicing her craft for the past 16 years, starting when her son was 2 years old. Marlene previously presented an art piece for the ‘Celebrating the Creators’ installation, Thunder Bay Art Gallery (2010), as well as a piece for the ‘From the North’ installation, Ontario Craft Council, Toronto (2015), using fabric and beads to convey a cultural lense of her life experiences and understanding. Marlene is a meticulous beadworker whose pieces of beaded jewelry have garnered recognition by her peers and customers across Canada. Her attention to detail and aim for near perfection is evident in her bead works and her sewn crafts. Her love of her craft led to creating a business, Em-Kay-Kay Beading Plus, whose name is homage to
letters written in Ojibway text, special to her grandmother and mother. Marlene is passionate about sharing her bead experiences in the hopes of helping any individual. In line with her matriarchal teachings, she has passed on her knowledge with classes and one-on-one sessions with all walks of women. Marlene encourages the ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ adage in all of her craft endeavours, finding antique beads and other treasures in yard sales and thrift shops across the country.