In Paula Rasmus Dede’s sculpture Pedaling My Inner Child, the artist has taken a commercially produced child’s tricycle and adorned it with beadwork, glittering fabric and tassels. The piece is autobiographical for the artist, recalling the memory from her childhood of when she received her first bicycle. “When I was a girl there was no trike in my life,” stated Rasmus Dede. “I had a ‘scooter’ made of 2-by-4s, a cast-off clamp-on roller skate, and a piece of broom handle. This was my childhood means of locomotion until sixth grade, when I received a full-size bike made from spare parts of various colors and wear patterns.” The work is playful, vibrantly colored, and it exudes joy with its varied textures and materials. “As an artist, the opportunity to create my own tricycle spoke to me,” said Rasmus Dede. “Not only as a symbol of childhood, but as a labor of love. It became an opportunity to showcase several different and difficult beading techniques and styles, taking me over two years to complete.” This dazzling multidisciplinary sculpture exhibits the artist’s playfulness and engagement with herself and her story as narrative for her work.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Aleut, b. 1946
Paula Rasmus-Dede is an Aleut artist who has been working with beads since her childhood. Primarily self-taught, she uses Indigenous techniques, such as the peyote stitch, double needle and needle weaving, to create unusual and distinctive contemporary jewelry and art objects. Thousands of beads are required to complete the embellishment of a single icon, such as a shoe, spirit mask or toy. Wirework has become a signature of her work and is chosen to complement and elevate the overall design. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Chateau-Musée in Boulogne, France, and the Anchorage Museum in Alaska, as well as in private collections. It has been selected to tour nationally as part of The Embellished Shoe (2000), Changing Hands II (2005) and The Perfect Fit (2009), and internationally as part of Facing Forward in Boulogne, France (2016). Rasmus-Dede lives in Chugiak, Alaska, near Anchorage.