Fibers & Forms

Native American Art - - COLUMNS/FEATURES -

A buyer’s guide for bas­kets with ad­vice from ex­perts.

“My ad­vice is to col­lect some­thing you are pas­sion­ate about,” says De­bra Sher­man, owner of Danc­ing Wolf Gallery in El­bert, Colorado, “and this will bring a pas­sion to learn and a pas­sion to con­tinue col­lect­ing. And with pas­sion, there is joy.”

This sen­ti­ment is felt widely through­out the Na­tive Amer­i­can art com­mu­nity, but when it comes to bas­ketry in par­tic­u­lar it is a mes­sage to be heard, as there is an in­di­vid­ual story be­hind each piece cre­ated. The nar­ra­tive be­gins as the maker har­vests their ma­te­ri­als. Know­ing when, where and how the ma­te­ri­als grow is knowl­edge that has been passed on through gen­er­a­tions of fam­i­lies. Then comes the in­tri­cate weav­ing of the bas­ket—us­ing meth­ods such as plaiting, coil­ing and twin­ing—and is fol­lowed by the form and de­signs that the work of art will take, which is a tes­ta­ment to the in­di­vid­ual maker’s cre­ativ­ity and skill.

In the pages of this spe­cial buyer's guide, lead­ing deal­ers, gallery own­ers and artists have pro­vided ex­am­ples of some the most in­trigu­ing bas­kets in their in­ven­tory. The pieces fea­tured span from his­toric to con­tem­po­rary, which al­lows col­lec­tors to see high­lights of the past and present of bas­ket­mak­ing. There are bas­kets us­ing al­ter­na­tive ma­te­ri­als as well as bas­kets that are hun­dreds of years old. Art­work from tribes all around the coun­try are rep­re­sented as well, show­cas­ing the char­ac­ter­is­tics that make the bas­kets spe­cial to a par­tic­u­lar re­gion.

Along with the im­agery is a de­tailed de­scrip­tion of the work, in­clud­ing in­for­ma­tion on the na­tive ma­te­ri­als used, the orig­i­nal pur­pose of the bas­ket and the in­spi­ra­tions be­hind why it was cre­ated. The items found in this guide are avail­able to pur­chase, so if some­thing strikes you, con­tact the dealer and ask about ac­quir­ing the bas­ket for your col­lec­tion.

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