Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America / by Elizabeth Derstine

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.


Light Vessel CCCXXII, 2004
Hand-split hickory, maple, monofilament: 8″ x 8″

The Arawjos began making rough Appalachian-style baskets as a hobby in 1978, and by 1980, were full-time, professional basket makers. Over the past 36 years, they have perfected their skills and developed a distinct style most recently represented by Light Vessel, which has earned the appreciation of the art world.


Kaki Shibu, 2004
Fiber: 8.5″ x 7″ x 5.5″ and 5″ x 5.25″ x 4″

The themes of containment and secrecy have driven Nancy Bess’s work for over 20 years. Inspired by the 1993 New York exhibition Secrecy: African Art that Conceals and Reveals, Bess says, “I use lids and closures to imply that, though there is something inside my vessels, we aren’t allowed access to that space and those mysterious contents.” In addition to a strong African influence, she counts Japanese, Asian Indian, and Californian colors and motifs among the inspirations for her work.