Wednesday, May 5, 2010

This next month of works is going to be so cool that I thought I would post it to the blog.

Here is the first week:

May 3 – 9, 2010

Rowena Bradley, Double Weave Lidded Basket,

No date, double woven river cane with walnut and blood root dyes, 6.75 x 6 x 6 inches. 2004 Collectors’ Circle Acquisition. Asheville Art Museum Collection. 2005.03.09.58.

At one point, Rowena Bradley was one of only a handful of double weave rivercane weavers. She learned by watching her mother weave, a third generation Cherokee basket weaver. Eventually, she became part of the Cherokee craft revitalization which helped boost Cherokee economy and also kept the traditions of Cherokee craft alive for future generations. Bradley’s father was Henry Bradley, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band, and she grew up on lands owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian.

Double weave baskets were good storage containers because they were strong and often water repellant. A double weave basket is really two baskets, one inside the other, woven together at the rim. Beginning at the base of the inside basket, the weaver works upward to the rim and then down along the outside towards the base, often using two designs on the inside and the outside. Bradley learned patterns and designs from her mother, but she also came up with some of her own. To make the baskets, the rivercane is collected, split into quarters, peeled, soaked in water and then dyed before beginning to weave. Bradley used materials common to traditional Cherokee rivercane basketry, including naturally found dyes from native roots and bark, including those from butternut, black walnut, bloodroot and yellow root.

This basket was purchased for the Museum by the Collectors’ Circle after it was in the Museum’s exhibition Transformations: Cherokee Baskets in the Twentieth Century, which examined Cherokee basket making over the past century, and how the materials and styles have evolved during this time period. A photograph of Rowena Bradley taken by photographer Tim Barnwell will be on display starting May 14th in the Museum’s new exhibition Hands in Harmony: Traditional Crafts and Music in Appalachia, Photographs by Tim Barnwell. Look for it next week, here at Work of the Week!

For more information on this work and artist, visit our Permanent Collection online!