Cole Jacobson is a member of the Prairie Island Indian Community. In 2018 he was one of two recipients of the Native American Artist-in-Residence program at the Minnesota Historical Society.
The society said in a news release that Jacobson "will focus on Dakota moccasins or hanpikceka, and the relatively unknown Woodland-influenced designs of Dakota material culture, specifically pucker toe moccasins. Dakota people have typically been associated with Plains culture, and Jacobson hopes that his research and community workshops."
Jacobson creates art using a variety of media. He answered some questions for the Republican Eagle.
What type of art do you do?
I am both a traditional and contemporary artist. Traditional in the sense that I practice the traditional arts of my people, using what we consider “traditional” materials and media. Beadwork, quillwork, and traditional paintings. But contemporary art forms and subject matters are also part of my work as well.
What draws you to this medium/media?
I am definitely drawn to doing these traditional arts because I feel a connection to the many artists that came before me, creating work that is descendant from the work they did.
How long have you been creating art? Is this a new skill or something that you have been focusing on for a long time?
I've been doing beadwork since I was 13, but I didn't come to see myself as an artist until my senior year of high school. I didn’t consider beadwork an art form until my sophomore year of art school, and it has been a part of my artist practice going forward. Since then I’ve also learned other traditional art forms, because I value eclecticism.
Are you working on a piece or project now?
Yes! Although things have drastically changed for many, with having to work from home. I am utilizing the time to work on projects that I didn’t have time to before.
What inspires you to make your art?
The notion that I am helping my culture survive into the next generations through my work. That one day someone may look at my art, in the same way that I look at the works left by my ancestors today.
Who are your biggest influences?
The artwork that my ancestors have left for us is what inspires me the most. Artwork that is deeply rooted in where I come from. I often spend hours studying these works from afar and even up close thanks to museum collections. I am also greatly inspired by the work of my fellow Native American/First Nations artists, many of whom I consider to be my peers.
Has the coronavirus pandemic impacted your art/work at all? How? Have you been able to work around it or adjust your creation process?
As a working artist, I work entirely from home, where I am most comfortable. Though the coronavirus has forced me to stay home more, I utilize the time to create.
I haven’t really made any work that is about the pandemic, I do hope to create something that will mark this point in time, to say that I have lived through it.
Anything else that you want to share about yourself or your work?
I think it's very important for non-native people to understand that native art is art. It may come in the form of 2-D works, or 3-D works. It may be in beadwork, basketry, textiles, or in multi-media, but regardless native artists have had to fight their way through history against non-native institutions to simply validate their work.
The subject matters of their work, are about the history of America, but through a Native lens and it is important that others take the time to look through that lens.