I like being called a basket maker. What I do utilizes the historical techniques of basketry, but in a more contemporary sculptural way. Basket makers must be painstakingly patient and have a deep understanding of nature, using natural materials in a sustainable way. I like to think that what I do honors basket makers throughout history, the natural environment, and what has historically been considered traditional “women’s work.”
I learned “off loom weaving” techniques when I was in college in the 1970’s studying to become an art teacher at the University of Arizona. Instantly I loved the feel of making “something from nothing” with my hands and a few simple materials. I worked to learn traditional basketry techniques and craftsmanship that I could be proud of. I was in awe of the Native American baskets by master weavers where I grew up in the southwest and became a collector.
It didn’t take long for me to try basket making techniques using my own found materials and to want to express myself through what I created. My baskets have evolved from the traditional to the more sculptural, and I enjoy innovating and stretching the limits of the techniques to shape sculptural forms and to tell a story that creates response in my audience.
With a recent move from Minnesota to southern California, I am again enjoying exploring basketry traditions of indigenous people, history, culture and landscape. Life near fire charred and then poppy covered hills and learning from beach walks has inspired in me a wealth of new stories to tell. Look for my new work to reflect a new sense of place and an increased understanding of myself.
Collecting materials and making a basket gives me a place of quiet introspection to escape to in this fast paced life of nearly constant noise. Making art lets my voice be heard.
Contact: Sherri West
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