Columbia Museum of Art

Photo © 1998 by Gary Knight and Associates

Columbia, SC



Fibers & Forms

Nov. 18, 2000 - Jan. 14, 2001


Drawn from the superb collection of the San Diego Museum of Man, this exhibition presents a comprehensive survey of Native American basketry from the North American West. Objects range in age from a pre-historic Pueblo basket from 1200 AD to a Hopi tray from the 1970s and includes many previously unseen objects from their extensive and largely unknown collection. (left: Selected Coiled Baskets, Yokuts)

Fibers & Forms gives in-depth treatment to aesthetic as well as technical developments in Western basketry, paying particular attention to regional trends, tastes and traditions. The exhibition encompasses territories from Alaska to the Mexican border and from the Pacific Coast to the Rockies, and includes over 200 works by Aleut, Eskimo, Hopi, Apache, Hupa, Maidu and Yokuts weavers. (right: Coiled Baskets, Pima)

Similar plant fibers are used in all of the basketry traditions represented, as weaving and sewing are the two dominant methods of building forms from these materials. Innumerable expressions of individual creativity can be seen in the imaginative use of fringes, feathers, beads and dyes, illustrating the vitality and richness of Native American basketry. (left: Coiled Basket, Olla,Western Apache)

Assembled over a period of more than 80 years, the objects range in scale from a Kumeyaay bowl that measures three feet in diameter to one that is only an eighth of an inch tall. A large portion of the exhibition is dedicated to baskets made and collected between the 1880s and 1930s, the Golden Age of basket collecting, when social and economic changes in Native American communities shifted the purpose of basket production from functional use to decorative and aesthetic concerns. In that era when such works first became popular commodities beyond Native American communities, vessels made for utilitarian purposes became increasingly rare, and their inclusion in the exhibition adds considerable dimension to the survey.

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 3/18/11

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