Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America visually chronicles the history of American basketry from its origins in Native American, European, and African traditions to its contemporary presence in the fine art and craft worlds. The baskets in this exhibition convey meaning and interpret American life through the artists’ choices of materials; the techniques and forms they select; and the colors, designs, patterns, and textures they employ.
Historical baskets were rooted in local landscapes and shaped by cultural traditions. With the increase of mass production brought about by the industrial revolution, basketmakers began to create works for new audiences and markets including tourists and collectors. Today, some contemporary artists seek to maintain and revive traditions performed for centuries. Others combine age-old techniques with nontraditional materials to generate cultural commentary. Still others challenge viewers’ expectations by experimenting with form, materials, scale, and installation.
Divided into four sections – “Cultural Origins,” “Living Traditions,” “Basket as Vessel,” and “Beyond the Basket” – this exhibition of 70 to 75 objects has two primary goals: to model how to look at, talk about, and analyze baskets aesthetically, critically and historically; and to contextualize American basketry within art and craft history specifically and American culture generally.
A traveling exhibition organized by the National Basketry Organization in partnership with the University of Missouri. Images: (from left): Kate Anderson, Lichtenstein Teapot/Girl with Ribbon, 2005. Waxed linen thread, stainless steel; Charissa Brock, Adagio, 2013. Tiger bamboo, waxed linen thread. Photos courtesy of the National Basketry Organization.