Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Native American Basketry: A Living Tradition

The Autry National Center in Los Angeles is currently offering The Art of Native American Basketry: A Living Tradition, a wide-ranging look into the basket arts across cultures and geographies. Here's the Autry's introduction to this exhibit:
More than 250 objects will be on view, ranging in size from small Pomo feather baskets made for sale to tourists, to massive Apache olla baskets used for storing large quantities of seeds. Because the works shown have been selected from a remarkably wide-ranging and distinguished collection, visitors will be able to see how the materials, techniques, and designs of the baskets vary from region to region, reflecting different physical environments and traditions. Also evident will be the distinctive styles of individual artists, whose signatures can be instantly recognizable to other weavers. The Autry has invited thirteen contemporary basketweavers to serve as consultants in research and planning and will purchase a basket from each consultant to add to the permanent collection.
The museum, in its efforts to stress the contemporary element of this tradition, is also featuring a series of video installations that carry the voices of these modern basketweavers into the gallery space:

We haven't spent enough time with The Autry National Center in the past, so we look to correct this soon. Their Native Voices program, "devoted to developing and producing new works for the stage by Native American playwrights," is particularly exciting--we'll discuss these productions soon. Until then, The Autry's YouTube channel is well worth a visit; they offer over 50 well-produced videos that suggest the range of their cultural and artistic mission.