We had the good fortune of connecting with Meg Elaine and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Meg, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I have always been drawn to the arts. As a child, my parents introduced opportunities for me and my siblings to try out different art forms, and I am so grateful I was introduced to creativity at such a young age. In high school, I was in honors art, which was my favorite class and outlet. I can’t not create! The concept of vocation has always meant more to me than career. I have always been motivated to create a sense of connection and purpose to my life’s work, rather than pursue work solely by the necessity of money. What is it I am being asked to share with the world? Where is my work most truly needed? It is a privilege to pursue work as an artist, and it can also be a huge challenge to make a living from it. Ultimately, it feels like a major gift to have this sense of expression woven into my life, and I am so honored when I see people in the world wear my beadwork! It is humbling and inspires me to keep pursuing this creative path.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is ever evolving! I hope I never get too static in my life’s work… because of this, I give myself permission to take pauses, to let my work breathe, to listen, to experiment. This is what excites me, to allow the ebb and flow of life to surround my creative expression and see how it grows and where it goes! This hasn’t always been easy, just as life isn’t always easy. There is a lot of unknown in pursuing a creative vocation, and this is what challenges me the most. It is a constant practice to trust that I am ultimately taken care of by spirit, and to know peace within. I am so humbled and grateful for continued opportunities to show up for this work. You can check out my next website drop on Saturday, 4.3.21 (11:11am CST), which will highlight some new floral designs, and also keep an eye open for my work to be featured with Intertribal Creatives.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I will let myself daydream here, and pretend this hypothetical situation is happening in a time where we don’t have to be concerned about Covid-19! I live in St. Paul – right across the Mississippi river from Minneapolis. I would probably pick up some coffee with them at a cute coffee shop, then go to the co-op for some yummy local produce/groceries, then cook them brunch (I love to cook)! Then we’d check out some small businesses (so many amazing places to support), and just meander our way through the cities spontaneously. Then, we’d pack a backpack of afternoon snacks, and hike along the river. There are many beautiful trails along the Mississippi that are sprinkled with waterfalls, maybe we’d lay out a blanket and soak in the natural world. I’d bring a garbage bag in case there was trash along the way. We’d choose a place for dinner, and then find some local music to enjoy in the evening! Ahhh, how I miss those pre-virus days (the concept of a concert especially!).

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am Anishinaabe, and my work would not be possible without my connection to my mother, her mother, and her mother (and the ancestors before them). My great-grandmother was in the boarding school system; she was taken from her home as a child, along with so many other Native American children during that time. The explicit goal of these residential boarding schools was to assimilate Native youth into Eurocentric culture, and unfortunately, in many cases it worked. For example, my great-grandmother spoke Anishinaabemowin, but my grandma did not. Many cultural practices were literally illegal for them. I now have the privilege to express my culture in ways that my grandmothers could not. We know now scientifically that trauma is inherited through generations, and I know in my bones that resiliency is also passed down! My beadwork is an ancestral healing practice of cultural reclamation, and I could not create without the presence of my maternal lineage. I am learning that identity can be very nuanced as a mixed race person.  My upbringing was within white culture, I experience white-passing privilege, I have European ancestry, and I am Anishinaabe. These truths are all wholly within my experience, which has taken me me years to realize. I imagine this journey of identity will be a forever unfolding and deepening path. I would like to always recognize and give thanks to those who walked their path before me that make this life expression possible!

Website: www.neliegmae.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nelie.g.mae/?hl=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nelie.g.mae

Image Credits
Most photos were taken by me, with the exception of two photos taken by my sister, Jane Veitenheimer (https://www.likeitssunday.com/pages/creative). Note: the two photos taken by Jane are the two photos of me beading!

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.