Butch Phillips (Artist Profile)

Butch Phillips, a tribal elder of the Penobscot Nation, grew up on Indian Island. He is a tradition bearer within his community.

Phillips is a birchbark artist known for etching winter bark with traditional Penobscot double curve motifs and designs. He is also recognized for his moose calls (article here), log carriers, and model canoes.

In 2002, Butch assisted in the construction of an 18-foot birchbark canoe that was finished and paddled in shifts during the annual Katahdin Spiritual Run, a 100-mile trek by canoe, bike and foot to Mount Katahdin. Later, Butch went on to build a 14-foot canoe on his own, and an 18-foot canoe with two of his sons. Since then, he has participated in events that showcase birchbark canoes while paddling the Penobscot River.

Butch has been instrumental in the restoration of the Penobscot River, advocating for the removal of dams to allow for the return of migratory fish species such as salmon and sturgeon. The restoration of the river was a collaborative effort by the tribe, seven conservation groups, the local power company, the State of Maine, and the Federal government. Butch is one of twenty-four Penobscot individuals featured in the documentary “The River is Our Relative.” In this film, Butch shares his spiritual connection and celebrates his cultural ties to the Penobscot River.

His art is featured in the collections of the Hudson Museum as well as the Abbe Museum. Butch will be showcasing etched birchbark at the 2023 Wabanaki Winter Market, sharing a table with his sister Gayle Phillips who creates decorative works and jewelry.

For more information, please visit: https://umaine.edu/hudsonmuseum/butch-phillips/

Photo – Butch Phillips (Artist Profile)

Video – Butch Phillips (Artist Profile)

Source: The Nature Conservancy

Upcoming 2023 Wabanaki Winter Market (Saturday, December 9, 2023) :

Organized by the Hudson Museumthe Wabanaki Winter Market is New England’s largest holiday gathering of Wabanaki artists. The annual december event features Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance award-winning weavers, as well as new artists representing the next generation of weavers.

The event is supported in part by grants from the Maine Office of Tourism and the Onion Foundation

Location of the event: The Collins Center for the Arts (2 Flagstaff Road|Orono, Maine)
Date: Saturday, December 9, 2023 (from 9 am to 3 pm)
Contact: Gretchen Faulkner | Director, Hudson Museum (207.581.1904)

For event updates, please visit: https://umaine.edu/hudsonmuseum/wabanaki-winter-market/