Exhibition to feature Native American baskets

imageTyler Art Gallery will host an American Indian Baskets exhibition from Sept. 17 to Oct. 23, featuring ornately decorated baskets as well as original photogravures by Edward S. Curtis.

The public is invited to an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17, in the gallery in Tyler Hall on campus.

The exhibition is part of programming coinciding with the Oswego Reading Initiative’s selection of “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” by Sherman Alexie to be read by the college community.

The basket was an essential element in Native American culture in both the ceremonial sphere and the more mundane everyday realm. Whether worshipping or working, Native Americans used baskets in the performance of required duties. Baskets were intimately associated with the most important life stages, including birth, puberty, marriage and death. Two examples are Apache and Navajo wedding baskets and a Hopi reward plaque.

Indians used baskets for a variety of household and utility purposes. Among these types are a Southwest pitch-sealed twine canteen, a dyed willow olla, a Rappanhannock household storage basket from Virginia and a western Klamath rafia basket with commercial dyes.

The botanical fibers and materials used for dyes in the baskets reflect the locale of each tribe that produced the baskets. Botanical fibers represented in this collection include a Haida split root basket, an Alaskan beach grass basket, a large Mohican covered basket of woven elm splints, Santa Domingo and San Juan willow baskets, a Choctaw plaited basket of dyed river cane and a Cherokee wicker weave buckbrush or honeysuckle basket. 

The characteristics of the tribes are also evident in the decorative patterns and methods of ornamentation used. Baskets in all five major weaves—coil, twine, twill, wicker and imbricated—are included in the exhibition.

Many fine Northwest coast baskets, along with examples of baskets from the Southeast, Northeast, Plains and Woodland tribes, make up this exhibition. Highlights include several Makah oval and lidded baskets and an Apache figural basket decorated with people and deer.

Blair-Murrah, the service organization preparing the exhibition, provides a number of exhibitions covering a variety of historical and contemporary subjects to institutions throughout the world.

The exhibition is sponsored by the college Student Association’s Student Art Exhibition Committee, Artswego and the SUNY Oswego Office of International Education and Programs.

All Tyler Art Gallery events are free and open to the public. New hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. weekends.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance to attend gallery events should contact Tyler Art Gallery at 312-2113.

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CONTACT: Mindy Ostrow, 312-2113

(Posted: Aug 18, 2004)