How I Got Ready: Felonee’s Story

Some people tell stories with words; others construct their stories through dance steps or a brush dipped into paint, leaving trails on a canvas.

Felonee Webster’s tools of choice? Fibers that she crochets, knits, quilts and sews into works of art.

Webster, a 2020 Alverno graduate, grew up learning how to crochet and knit. It wasn’t until she arrived at art school, however, that she realized she could use these skills to create a picture. By transferring to Alverno, she says she further clarified her artistic direction.

“Alverno helped me identify my particular art medium. It helped me narrow my focus in what I would like to do as an artist,” she recalls.

At Alverno, she found a warm community that welcomed her and was eager to hear the stories she wanted to tell – a place where everyone’s stories have value.

“Everybody has their own stories to tell and their own ways of telling it. Alverno shows support,” she says.

Webster’s story, which she explores in her art, includes her Native American culture and heritage as a descendant of the Oneida, Stockbridge and Cherokee peoples. She currently leads after-school programming at the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center, leading youth through such activities as sewing, weaving, papermaking and printmaking.

“The resulting projects from the sewing activity will be composed into a collaborative quilt,” she says.

Snakie’s Tank, a quilt by Felonee Webster

Webster’s work was recently exhibited by the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN), which welcomed Webster into a competitive art mentorship program. Webster was paired with world-renowned textile artist Sharon Kerry-Harlan, who challenged Webster to think big with the size and scope of her work.

“Sharon instilled within me the importance of maintaining an artistic practice and to strive for continuous growth in my artistic endeavors by challenging myself to create my very first art quilt, which was my very first quilt I’ve ever made on my own!,” she says. “This quilt, titled ‘Snakie’s Tank,’ was showcased in the MARN Mentors/Mentees exhibition, alongside with my knit metallic embossings.” (Webster’s knit metallic embossings are pictured at the top of this article.)

Thinking big extended beyond the exhibition. It reflects a mentality that Webster has carried into other projects.

“Sharon taught me to be open to opportunities,” she reflects. “It was because of her I also worked with Artists Working in Education (AWE) as an assistant artist for two community public art projects of painting crosswalks.”

Webster’s confidence is on full display when she returns to Alverno as a guest artist.

“It’s my way of giving back to Alverno the way I can. I’m demonstrating how I’ve grown through my Alverno journey to other students who are going through their journeys as well.”

Webster contributed to this Milwaukee crosswalk mural in a project led by Artists Working in Education.

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