In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

"Story Basket" by Passamaquoddy artist David Moses Bridges

"Story Basket" by Passamaquoddy artist David Moses Bridges

A story by Patricia Ayala Rocabado from 2012

Story basket, 2012 David Moses Bridges (1962-2017), Passamaquoddy. From the Abbe Museum collections, Bar Harbor, Maine. 2013-01-001 A-B.

In 2012 David made this basket during an extremely challenging time for our family. We had met in 2007 and fallen deeply in love. By 2012 I had immigrated from Bolivia and we had two sons, Sabattus and Natanis. Though I had earned a PhD in anthropology, working in Maine with a graduate degree from South América and my developing English skills was very difficult.

David was at the height of his artistic career and the main provider of income for our family. I became a stay at home mom juggling the needs of two little boys and looking for work while David pushed himself hard to earn a living from his art. At that time Tobias, David's oldest son, was living and going to high school in Machias, a town two hours away from our home in Bar Harbor.

With a birch bark canoe atop our car we spent a lot of time on the road working and visiting family. Seeing us, people frequently said that they wished they could be an artist or an archaeologist but had to choose something "REAL" instead. In the eyes of many, being a Native artist or an anthropologist specializing in collaborative archaeology was just not realistic. The truth is, it wasn't an easy path. Despite a life full of beauty and love, it was difficult to survive on David's art in a capitalist economy. Daily we asked ourselves, how can we do what we love without being sucked into this system? How can we escape from this consumer society and have an alternative lifestyle?

This basket reflects David's internal struggles to provide for our family. One scene depicts me (pregnant with Natanis) and our son Sabattus asking for food, while in other scenes we see David calling or hunting a moose or carrying a canoe. Tobias is depicted alone pulling a sled. Behind the scenes, an ancestor is shown watching us. The basket is very much a clear representation of David's inner life and struggles.

Today, David's "Story Basket" is part of the permanent collection of the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Patricia Ayala Rocabado and David Moses Bridges holding their sons, Sabattus and Natanis
David Moses Bridges and his son, Tobias Francis