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Khoiye-Goo Mah, 2004

Teri Greeves

Look closely at this pair of intricately beaded high-top sneakers from MAD’s permanent collection. Learn how the artist who was born and raised Kiowa has adapted Native storytelling traditions and skills to create her own visual language in this object lesson for all ages.


Bridging Native American traditions and contemporary popular culture, artist Teri Greeves uses beading as a means of visual storytelling. Khoiye-Goo Mah (which means “Kiowa women”) reflect on the role of women in Native American life and the legacy of matrilineal skill-sharing that has shaped Greeves’ own work as an artist. Take a long and careful look at the image above.

  • What is the very first thing you notice?
  • Describe what you see in as much detail as possible, paying particular attention to the colors, textures, and materials the artist used.
  • How do you think these sneakers were made?
  • What story might the artist be telling through this work?


Teri Greeves says about the high-top sneakers she used for this work,  “You’ve either owned a pair of these, your kids have owned a pair of these, you’ve played basketball in these, you had good times in them, you did your own little graffiti on them, you’ve worn them out. They are familiar, and this familiar object is a perfect vehicle for me to tell a story with.”

  • Do you or anyone you know own high-top sneakers? What do they look like and when do you wear them?
  • Are there any specific memories or stories you associate with these shoes?
  • In what way are Teri Greeves’ sneakers different?
  • Do you think they are intended to be worn?

Greeves is a a member of the Kiowa tribe of Oklahoma. She grew up on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming where her mother operated an Indian Trading Post. From early childhood, she was surrounded by beaded moccasins, cradle boards, bags, and other carefully crafted artifacts from a variety of Native cultures, including the abstract Kiowa beadwork and the more pictorial beaded objects of the Shoshone. Both have inspired her own practice. Greeves learned to bead at the age of eight, benefiting from the passed-on knowledge of her mother and grandmother, who were accomplished beaders. When she was thirteen, a Lakota artist brought a pair of beaded tennis to her mother’s shop, leaving a lasting impression. Years later, her mother suggested using a sneaker as a surface to bead on—an ambitious challenge compared to the smaller-scale work Greeves had done to date. Since then, the beaded high-tops have become one of the artist’s signature practices.

  • Beaded moccasins are among the most recognizable of Native American artifacts. Why do you think Greeves is interested in creating beaded sneakers instead?
  • For Greeves, the shoes illustrate the “adaptability and ingenuity” of Native American art today. What do you think she means by that?


The outward-facing sides of the sneakers depict two women in ceremonial Kiowa attire (of which beadwork is an integral part), while each inward-facing side features a red hand.

  • Why do you think the artist decided to use these particular images?
  • What do these pictures communicate to you?

Greeves has a deep interest in exploring Native womanhood, storytelling, and Kiowa history. In focusing on women’s roles as protectors and educators, Greeves also explores how contemporary interpretations of traditional motifs and materials promote the survival of a culture.

In this video, Greeves discusses how in Native American culture, women are frequently the link between tradition and innovation: “It’s never been about the materials, or even techniques. It’s the voice. It’s the voice that remains authentic and true and Native and specific to whomever you are and who your people are and the stories you have to tell.”

  • How is Greeves’ own voice heard in Khoiye-Goo Mah?


Greeves starts each of her works with a drawing, then fills in color and detail by beading along her drawn outlines.

  • Think of a woman who has inspired you in your own community. This could be your mother, grandmother, aunt, a family friend, or a teacher.
  • Draw her picture and embellish using whatever materials you can find: beads, sequins, fabric, or small pieces of magazine or newspaper.
  • Give your creation a title and share with your inspiring woman!

Teri Greeves (United States, b. 1970)
Khoiye-Goo Mah
, 2004
4 × 12 1/2 × 3 1/2 in. (10.2 × 31.8 × 8.9 cm)
cut beads, silver lined seed beads, found tennis shoes
Museum of Arts and Design, New York; purchase with funds provided by the Collections Committee, 2004

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