Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Language of Native American Baskets from the weavers' view


"In earlier days, baskets accompanied Indian people throughout their lives. Babies were carried in baskets, meals were prepared and cooked in them, worldly goods were stored in them, and people were buried in them. As the scene described here by writer Peter Blue Cloud makes clear, many Native American people believe that baskets were not given to humankind during the Creation, but had already been part of the world for many eternities. Today, baskets serve as markers of cultural pride and inheritance. Some are used on religious occasions. And hundreds of weavers make baskets for sale.

I began this exhibition with the idea that we can understand baskets through the details of their making—the weavers’ view. This idea is based upon a knowledge of baskets gained through many years of conversations with weavers, observation, and hands-on learning. Understanding basketmaking as process offers a means to see the interrelation of conception, creation, and expression.

Objects for the exhibition were then preliminarily selected and laid-out and five Native basket-makers and one Native basketry scholar were invited to a two-day seminar to review the proposed contents and organization. While the basic outline of the exhibition remained constant, the consulting curators honed my ideas and choices. Above all, they wished to see more contemporary baskets on view. They wanted to make clear that basketry is a living art, and that the baskets in the Museum’s collections remain rooted in their cultures, no matter how long ago they were made, used, purchased, and removed from their communities.... "
-Bruce Bernstein, Assistant Director for Cultural Resources, 
National Museum of the American Indian.

The Weavers' View
Each weavers' view includes a selection of 7-8 images of contemporary and historic baskets.

  • Lisa Telford, Haida
  • Pat Courtney Gold, Wasco Nation of the Warm Springs Confederacy
  • Julia Parker, Pomo & Sherrie Smith-Ferri, Dry Creek Pomo and Bodega Bay Miwok
  • Terrol Johnson, Tohono O'odham
  • Theresa Hoffman, Penobscot

Techniques, Tools & Workplaces

  • Techniques
    • 45 baskets
    • Plaiting
    • Wicker
    • Twining
    • Coiling
  • Tools & Workplaces

The Weavers' Aesthetic

  • Materials
    • 20 baskets
  • Starts & Finishes
    • 20 baskets
  • Splices & Workfaces
    • 10 baskets
  • Shape
    • 12 baskets
  • Design Field
    • 16 baskets
    • “I always point out that at one time the designs were new, people had to absorb them. But because we have been doing them for so long, now they’re considered traditional.”-Terrol Johnson, Tohono O’odham

Burden Baskets

  • 30 baskets
  • Open burden baskets
  • Closed burden baskets
  • Hats and small burden baskets

A Set of Values

  • 25 baskets
  • "Too often, when people think about Native American baskets, they assume that the weavers who make them are hemmed in by rules that govern the “traditional” arts. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tradition is not a list of rules, but rather a set of values that guide the weaver’s work."

Basketmaking Associations

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