Go-gee-zis muckwa (Moon Bear)
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Born in Angola, Indiana, Shirley Brauker was raised in the blended cultural traditions of her Odawa mother and her German father. She received a master of arts degree from Central Michigan University in 1983 and was recently honored as one of that university's "One Hundred Most Memorable Alumni of the Last Hundred Years." In 1991, Brauker continued her formal art education at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her work has been included in local and national juried and invitational shows, where it regularly receives awards. In March 1995 she traveled to the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, where she competed with more than 200 artists in a juried show.
Brauker lives in Coldwater next door to her parents in a home she built with the assistance of friends. Here she maintains a studio and business--Moon Bear Pottery-- and teaches children about her art and heritage in workshops and public school programs. Her son Austin is a talented artist in his own right. Further extending the artistic talents of the family, Brauker's young granddaughter Aryl Rae has already begun to paint and work in clay. Over the years, Brauker has developed a style of pottery that draws heavily on her Native American heritage. Her pots are wheel thrown and hand built with intricate symbolic designs carved into the surface. Because she expects viewers of her work to acquire a new awareness and appreciation for Indian culture, she is especially attentive to the authenticity of the designs and stories she uses: it is not unusual for her to spend many hours researching the significance of a single artistic motif. In order to fully convey the meaning of each piece to its viewers, Brauker often writes stories to explain and accompany her pottery.
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