Since my family lives in the Pacific Northwest, my first exposure to indigenous art was that of the Northwest Coast. It was in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. that I fell in love with the easily-recongnizable symbology of red and black button blankets and the phenomenal mask work that incorporates cedar, alderwood, horsehair, abalone shell and more.
Of late, I have been very interested in learning about basketry in general, so when I met Gianna Willard and Diane Douglas-Willard of Ketchikan, Alaska, I was so excited. Not only are they lovely and open people, but their work is some of the finest you will find. Gianna (Haida-Tlingit), who is Diane's daughter, has only been making cedar bark hats for a year, but the workmanship shows a lifetime exposure to basket making. The 53rd Annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market was Gianna's first Native American art show ever. She was a little nervous to do an interview at first, but she jumped right in and did a fabulous job!
Diane Douglas-Willard is a Haida basket maker, who was born in Bellingham, Washington. Diane, who has taken "First Place" and "Best in Division" at SWAIA Indian Market in Santa Fe, incorporates traditional basketry with contemporary designs. She utlizes both yellow and red cedar bark in addition to wax linen to achieve her unique style of work.
Both mother and daughter took the time from selling at the Heard show to talk to me about their work and the painstaking process of getting materials ready to weave their museum-quality pieces.
Watch my video interview with Gianna Willard and Diane Douglas-Willard HERE: