Basketry: A Collaboration of Nature and Creative Genius
The C.N. Gorman Museum is pleased to present the works of 26 Native American weavers from throughout Northern and Central California. The exhibition includes numerous pieces from the Hailstone Collection, developed over decades of teaching and collaboration by master weaver Vivien Hailstone (1913-2000) and more recently by Albert Hailstone. Guest Curator, Kathy Wallace brings this rich collection together with works by contemporary weavers.
Made of natural sources, such as willow, conifer root, bear grass, woodwardia fern, maidenhair fern, hazel, porcupine quill, devil’s claw, and deer grass, the baskets are truly a collaboration of nature and creative genius. Some date back to the early 1900’s, many are from the 1940-80s, and others are more recent creations. One of the extraordinary aspects of this exhibition is that all of the baskets are held in Native American family collections, with the exception of the Modoc/Pit River Collection housed in the the C.N. Gorman Museum permanent collections, and most have not been exhibited previously.
Meet the weavers at a Special Reception,
Kathy Wallace has been making traditional Karuk, Yurok and Hupa baskets for twenty-five years. Nearly a decade ago, she sold a thriving commercial business to devote her life full-time to weaving. As one of the founding “mothers” of the California Basketweavers Association, Wallace is working to revive basketweaving among California tribes, as well as protect the practice of the art itself. She is helping to accomplish this through instructional workshops on Northern California Native culture and basketry. In 2006-7, she was a Visiting Artist and Lecturer in the Department of Native American Studies at UCD.
As a practicing artist,
Kathy harvests the native plant materials for her work utilizing
ancestral knowledge that has been passed down to her. It is this
ritualized practice that drives her efforts to educate lawmakers
and state and federal agencies on the hazards of pesticide spraying
in the traditional gathering areas located in the forests and wetlands
of Northern California. She also works to ensure that controlled
burns are conducted in certain areas to ensure on-going plant regeneration.
Master basketweaver Vivien Hailstone (1913-2000) was Yurok, Karuk, and a member of the Hupa tribe. She was instrumental in continuing and teaching the weaving traditions of her communities for over twenty years. During that time, she developed a large personal collection of artworks by fellow weavers from her area which when she passed in 2000 was brought together with pieces acquired by her son Albert to form the Hailstone Collection.
One of the exceptional qualities of this collection is the attribution of individual weavers for many of the pieces. Also beneficial are instances where there are several examples by the same artist, such as the tobacco baskets by Amy Smoker (Yurok), where the viewer is enabled to perceive stylistic distinctions between artists, communities and more generally regionally.
This exhibition would not have been possible without the generosity of Albert Hailstone in loaning so many extraordinary works from this important collection.