Arrowmont's "All Things Considered VII" exhibition features baskets from artists nationwide

Sep. 09, 2013 @ 11:26 AM

You might think you know what a basket looks like. Jo Stealey’s “Saturnalia” might persuade you otherwise.

To make her playful, brightly colored creation, Stealey used traditional fiber techniques. But, the University of Missouri art professor said, “I really push that notion of traditional basketry, to the point that people would not even know it’s a basket unless I tell them it comes out of that tradition.”

“Saturnalia” is one of more than 40 pieces featured in “All Things Considered VII,” an exhibition currently on display at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. The show is presented by the National Basketry Organization.

“All Things Considered VII,” which runs through Oct. 19, gathers baskets by artists nationwide, including 30 juried works from 183 submissions. Other baskets in the show are included by invitation, among them pieces by National Basketry Organization board members. There also are works by teachers at this year’s NBO conference, set to take place Oct. 8-13 at Arrowmont.

“In the show at Arrowmont, you see some some very traditional kinds of baskets,” said NBO board member Stealey, who curated the show. “But others bear the marks of 21st-century basket makers. They defy function and truly become sculptural.”

Most human cultures have basket traditions, Stealey said. “Historically, every basket was indicative of the culture it came from, because of the way it was made, and the iconic imagery on it.”

Basket making came of age as a fine art in the 1960s, “as many other craft media were burgeoning,” Stealey said. “What we’re seeing today is a blending of tradition and innovation.”

Also on display at Arrowmont are baskets from the school’s collection. “We’re celebrating the long tradition of basket making in this region, and in Gatlinburg,” said Arrowmont Gallery Manager Stefanie Gerber Darr. “Basketry has always been at the heart of what we do.”

The National Basketry Organization held its first conference at Arrowmont, in 2000. “I teach at Arrowmont regularly,” Stealey said. “I’m going to be teaching there again next summer. Whenever I come to Arrowmont, I feel like I’ve come home.”

Stealey praised Arrowmont’s “wonderful energy” and the dedication of its staff.

“That’s why we continually return as an organization,” she said. “It’s such a wonderful location for bringing people together – where people from all over the country are able to eat, breathe and live their passion.”

kburns@themountainpress.com