Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America

February 3, 2018 - May 6, 2018

Lightcatcher Building

Coiled feather basket; Central California (possibly Yokuts), c. 1890. Sumac, devil’s claw, wool, quail feathers, 6 x 8 x 8 in. Lent by Lois Russell. Courtesy of the University of Missouri.

February 3 – May 6, 2018; Lightcatcher

Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America chronicles a history of American basketry from its origins in Native American, immigrant, and slave communities to its presence within the contemporary fine art world. Baskets convey meaning through the artists’ selection of materials; the techniques they use; and the colors, designs, patterns, and textures they employ.

Historical baskets were rooted in local landscapes and shaped by cultural traditions. The rise of the industrial revolution and mass production at the end of the nineteenth century led basket makers to create works for new audiences and markets, including tourists, collectors and fine art museums. Today the story continues. Some contemporary artists seek to maintain and revive traditions practiced for centuries. Others combine age-old techniques with nontraditional materials to generate cultural commentary. Still others challenge viewers’ expectations by experimenting with form, materials, and scale. Divided into five sections—Cultural Origins, New Basketry, Living Traditions, Basket as Vessel, and Beyond the Basket—this exhibition of approximately 95 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.

This exhibition is generously sponsored in part by the National Basketry Organization, University of Missouri, the Windgate Charitable Foundation, the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design, and numerous private donors. Additional support is provided by the Northwest Basket Weavers Vi Phillips Guild, the City of Bellingham, the Whatcom Museum Advocates, and the Whatcom Museum Foundation.

PARTY > Members see it first at the member reception, Friday, February 2, 5 – 7 PM at the Lightcatcher building

DOCENT TOURS (In conjunction with Jeweled Objects of Desire) > Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 1:30pm beginning February 10th.

SHOWING CONCURRENTLY AT OLD CITY HALL > Gathered Together: A Show of Work Celebrating Members of the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild and Hidden in the Bundle: A Look Inside the Whatcom Museum’s Basketry Collection.