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"Fibers and Forms: Native American Basketry of the West"
2000-11-18 until 2001-01-07
Columbia Museum of Art
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
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.
Plant fibers such as roots, reeds, grasses and stems 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.
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. During this time,
social and economic changes in Native American communities such as disease and loss of
land, shifted the purpose of basket production from functional use to decorative and
aesthetic concerns. In that era when such works first became popular commodities to
collectors, vessels made for utilitarian purposes became increasingly rare, and their
inclusion in the exhibition adds considerable dimension to the survey.
Coiled Baskets, Pima Early 1900s
Fibers & Forms: Native American Basketry of the West