Lily Wooshkindein Da.áat Hope, renowned weaver and artist, stands outside her recently opened studio on Seward Street on May 9, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Juneau residents downtown may have noticed a familiar name in a new place with Lily Wooshkindein Da.áat Hope’s newly opened studio bringing the widely acclaimed weaver and artist’s presence to the public.
The studio, opened in early April, is a new space to work from, Hope said, which has its upsides and downsides.
“The hazard is, I love to talk. I love to share stories like my mother. I had to put this privacy window in so I didn’t make eye contact with everyone that walks by,” Hope said, laughing. “I remembered how much I love weaving with people around. I am motivated by spending time with people, and now, I get a daily artist’s residency.”
The studio, located on Seward Street across from V’s Cellar Door, has more room to work and to instruct others compared to her previous workspace, Hope said. The weaver, known for her Ravenstail and Chilkat-style weaving, is now aimed more squarely at the public.
“I had a small studio space that I was sharing with Ricky Tagaban. I do miss weaving with Ricky,” Hope said. “But space-wise, there was no way we could have four people in the space. And it wasn’t public-facing where I could sell stuff.”
Hope said she’s adjusted some of how she works in this more public setting, including working with assistants to help maintain some of the shop functions, as well as the new ability to sell art to passersby and hold other functions at the shop, like classes or First Friday events.
“It has been really fun interacting with the public. It’s really enlightening to hear Lily talk to people about what she does,” said Rachel Bishop, who serves as Hope’s executive assistant. “Her face just lights up when she talks to people.”
The studio also allows Hope to host collections of goods for sale — hers and others. Artists looking to sell their jewelry should reach out to her, Hope said.
“It’s been pretty unreal to have my own space to sell my smaller jewelry. No one’s taking a cut, no one’s taking a percent. It allows me to host other artists for a fraction,” Hope said. “It is paying for itself. When I’m here, people buy things. Every single day I have had my door open, I have sold an item or more.”
A space for learning
Hope continues to host online classes, but with the expanded space, she can host more students in-person as well.
“The studio that she opened up downtown, I’m excited to see where it goes,” said Melina Meyer, who’s been learning weaving from Hope since 2019. “I know she’s had some people able to come weave in person. It’s nice to pan over and see her helping in real time.”
With the easing of mitigation measures and the opening of the studio, Hope said she’s able to teach more, both virtually and now in person.
“It’s sustained me through the pandemic,” Hope said. “I used to teach ten classes a year and now I get to go to my happy place with my students every single Sunday.”
That Sunday class has created a unique space to learn, Meyer said.
“We always look forward to our Sunday Zoom session. (Hope has) created this community for us,” Meyer said. “She’s just a huge supporter and teacher and cheerleader online.” Teaching is as much a joy as creating, Hope said.
“Supporting other artists, supporting a community of learners, it’s exciting,” Hope said. “We want to get funding for the students who are not in Juneau to come here. It hits on the mission of making more weavers and preserving an endangered art.”
Hope said she also teaches classes at University of Alaska Southeast. Teaching other artists that they can make a living doing art is one of her prides, Hope said.
“That’s probably one of my biggest joys. If I’m not teaching people to weave, encouraging other artists to recognize the good work coming through them, that it’s possible to thrive from it,” Hope said. “That this can be a way of life.”
Having a studio downtown also allows Hope to work on bigger projects, Bishop said.
“She has more time to work on her bigger products. She does have a space to go to,” Bishop said. “It’s helpful to me too because I have less of a distraction than working from home.”
That togetherness is a new and grand thing, Hope said.
“We can’t do it by ourselves. The best parts of our lives are the things we do together,” Hope said. “The capacity of having my own space to teach classes, that’s been pretty awesome.”
Hope is currently working on a large blanket for the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences. She says she has no particular plans for expanding the shop beyond continuing to teach, to create and to be grateful and optimistic. There is a possibility for the addition of one staff member, Hope said.
“I really want a studio cat,” Hope said, reflecting on other shops downtown with their own adorable animal assistants.
The studio helps to reinforce the things that make Juneau what it is, Meyer said.
“That’s the one thing I love about Juneau. You know it’s an Indigenous place,” Meyer said. “She’s adding to that narrative and connectedness.”
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or [email protected]