My interest in art began when at an early age. I’m told my grandmother was a beadworker. Although she died when I was very young, many people believe her talent was passed down to me. But I first started doing quillwork. I taught myself by looking at illustrations in a French Canadian book, and experimenting with beads and quills that my mom had used to try to teach herself this skill. The two art forms’ techniques are actually related: the two-needle band in quillwork is similar to the beadwork’s lazy stitch. People often say that beadwork takes patience, but I don’t see it that way. It’s like coloring to me; I see the designs and colors become reality in my hands. I never think of beadwork or quillwork as craft, but as fine art.
Chitto’s beadwork ... is catching the attention of collectors, galleries, museums, and publications like Vogue magazine. Visually satisfying and dazzling all at the same time, the work is infused with sophisticated designs and color palettes. Each piece exhibits impressive precision.
“In the beginning of my career, I was focused on making things beautiful. I wasn’t concerned with incorporating conceptual or abstract elements—until I created a piece for the Abbe Museum’s Twisted Path series, in Maine, which focuses on the theme of health and well-being in tribal communities.”
Hollis Chitto’s beaded bags may seem too beautiful to use on the regular—but he doesn’t view them that way. “The handbags I make are lined and fully functional, if one were to wish to use them as such,” he says.