MAMMOTH SPRING -- The Mammoth Spring Elementary Art Department is sponsoring "Walk a Mile In My Moccasins," an adventure in Native American Culture March 20. Mammoth Spring Elementary School Art Instructor Bessie Shelton said the presentation will feature internationally recognized Native American artist Valerie Goetz of Native Works. Goetz will be working with Shelton's preschool through sixth grade art students sharing Native American stories from her tribe and teaching Native American crafts.
"I started my company, Native Works, as a way to preserve the artistic cultural tradition of my people," said Goetz. "This is something that I love doing because it allows me to use my talent in traditional Native American art forms, such as carving, pottery, storytelling and basket weaving, while promoting public awareness of my people."
Goetz said she belongs to the Muscogee Nation of Florida. The tribe is rich in southeastern Native American culture and art work, and has influenced northwest Florida history for centuries.
Goetz has taught workshops across the country. She is a featured artist at state parks in Arkansas and Kentucky. Frequently she does storytelling for schools. As a guest speaker, she has given presentations to the Daughters of the Revolution, Daughters of Indian Wars and many more.
She was selected to be part of the Native American Basketry Exhibit at the Royal Art and History Museum in Brussels, Belgium, in the fall of 2005. Recently she was selected to be added to the Arkansas Arts on Tour 2006-07 roster.
"To me there is a great satisfaction in taking simple pieces of nature and creating a living history containing function and artistic beauty," Goetz said.
Due to civil inequality, Goetz said she was not openly raised as a Native American. She and her three children joined the Muscogee Nation of Florida in the 1990s. Since her acceptance into the tribe, she has spent many hours being mentored by the Muscogee elders.
"It is wonderful to understand that the work of my hands comes from generations of traditions," said Goetz. "I hope that I am always able to educate and inspire people around the word with my art."