About the Artist
Jean McCabe (b. 1976) is a primarily self-taught beadweaver with an
education in historical costume reproduction and restoration, and
anthropology. She produces elaborately beaded body adornment that
combines Native American, African Zulu, and Victorian beadweaving
techniques with modern materials and color schemes. She exhibits her
work in national and international beadwork exhibitions, and sells her
finished work throughout the United States and the world through this website: www.LauraMcCabeArt.com. She maintains a
studio in Old Mystic, Connecticut, and teaches beading workshops domestically and abroad.
those creative acts that have been most often associated with body adornment
rarely have been accorded the status of Art. While beadwork has existed in
virtually every culture throughout the world since the beginnings of modern
man, and has played a significant role both spiritually (with amuletic
properties) and socially (as an indicator of status), it is generally viewed as
a functional craft rather than an Art form in its own right.
Beads and beadwork have, throughout time, maintained a universal appeal that
links people across cultures and across the ages. Beads date back more than
40,000 years, and are a uniquely human phenomenon, not found amongst other
primates or even earlier human species. In addition to serving the human needs
of vanity, adornment, and social status, beads have a deeper, more spiritual
aspect. They have provided us good fortune, protection from evil forces, and a
link to a more spiritual realm (both through prayer beads and elaborately
beaded ritual body adornment).
From early hunter gatherers in the pre-agricultural age, to the Ancient Worlds
of Egypt, Greece and Rome, onto Renaissance Europe, Tribal Africa, the Orient,
Native America, the Victorian Period, and up through the Modern Era, beadwork
has represented an uninterrupted tradition throughout time amongst virtually
every culture on Earth. In a world of human differences, beadwork is a common
link, fulfilling the most fundamental human needs.
It is in this history of ancient traditions, spiritual importance, timeless
handcraft, and human commonality that the Art of Beads can be found. They
represent more than precision handwork, personal adornment, or social
significance. Each bead, beneath its lustrous surface, tells an age old story
of human fear, human desire, and the human need for beauty.
By drawing on my education in historical costume and textiles and applying
variations of Native American, African Zulu, and Victorian beading techniques
to contemporary colors and designs, I strive to create beaded body adornment
that celebrates and reincarnates the dying tradition of fine handcrafts, and
helps to elevate beadwork to the status of Art which it undeniably deserves.