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Contemporary Basketry with Japanese Influence

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What IS it about red that is so appealing?

I love red. There are too many red jackets in my closet, red shoes I will never wear again, but can't bear to discard, and red scarves I'll wear walking the dog or going to Live at The Met. When I began working on "M&M's - I Eat Only The Red Ones", I cleared a large area on my work table and replaced items with some of my favorite red treasures - a paper bracelet from Mexico, my red Japanese awl that fits so perfectly in my hand, a red cardboard fish from a Hiroshima food package and more. Now that this project is at home at browngrotta's gallery in Connecticut, and I have moved my red treasures back to their original locations, the work table is a bit bare. Time for a new project and new inspiration. But I think I'll continue wearing lots of red.

What IS it about stones that is so appealing?

Basket makers are mad about stones. We line them up on our windowsills, edge our garden paths, stitch them on artwork and pile them on our worktables. In Japan, a modest stone tied with coconut fiber rope (the kind used to tie bamboo fences) is placed at the end of a path to indicate that one should not trespass there. That is so much nicer than a DO NOT ENTER sign.

And then there are wrapped stones to consider!

What IS it about stitching that is so appealing?

Twining is still the love of my studio life. On one of my studio tables, there is a new piece for the Pods, Seeds & Pollen series. It was inspired by hundreds of eucalyptus pods my dog and I walk on daily in Golden Gate Park and Sutro Heights Park. However, my twining I always do in my studio with all my tools and supplies at hand. So it isn't very portable. Also, I often like to do multiple projects at one time.  Along came stitching!

I don't mean sewing, which I have not done since my poor Berkeley days. I mean mindfully and slowing stitching fabric with no exhibition plans in mind. Inspired by Chunghei Lei's bojagi wrapping cloths, Japanese boro (rags) and the contemporary Japanese fiber artist, Junko Oki, one work table is covered with old Japanese fabric scraps, Japanese handmade papers, a tray of DMC thread and linen cords, and lots of needles.

Now back to stitching.

What IS it about seeds and pods that is
so appealing?

As you will note on the What’s New page, one current source of interest to me is a series of British books dedicated to seeds, fruits and pollen. These wonders of nature were scanned with electron microscopy to reveal their elaborate designs. For many the undulations, wings and hairs facilitate flight in air…thus, distributing afar. To further enhance the drama of these photographs (many of which were full page) most of the images were tinted in fascinating hues that emphasized the wonder of their design. Pale greens highlighted with yellow (Parnassiaceae) caught my attention, as did the muted rust of Caryophyllaceae, red campion. However, I think the brilliant red seed with a bright yellow edge is my next in this series: Primulaceae, scarlet pimpernel

What IS it about jars that is so appealing?

Much of my work over the last 20 years has been about the potential of mystery and containment in basketry. I use lids and closures to imply that, though there is something inside my vessels, we aren't allowed access to that space and those mysterious contents. While my woven forms reflect my continued interest in Japan, I was profoundly moved by the exhibition, "Secrecy: African Art that Conceals and Reveals" at The Museum for African Art in New York in 1993. And a recent lecture in India exposed me to another rich culture with an entirely new set of colors and forms to inspire.

Japan, Africa and India provide overlays to the influences of a California childhood. The pantry there was filled with the color of canned peaches, the amber jars of fresh honey and the glistening red of pomegranate jelly. Now in my studio, there are new jars of pebbles collected from Kyoto garden paths and California beaches, as well as crocks of spooled silk thread and iron Japanese teapots. All inspire me.

These forms, whose textures invite you to touch, draw you inside and make you dream of other places and, perhaps, other times.

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