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Cherokee basketmakers weave the line between craft and art

Matt Peiken | BPR News

With a soft-spoken prayer, a few dozen members of the Eastern Band Cherokee welcomed others to view what they have held sacred for centuries: handcrafted baskets.

“Weaving Across Time” is a new exhibition on view through April 22, 2022, at the Center for Craft in downtown Asheville. It examines the line between craft and art, showing off traditional forms and practices in a contemporary context.

“I have always been around it and have always known how to do it. My mom did it. We were always around it,” Mary Thompson said at the opening reception. Thompson is a tribal member and one of nine basket makers in this exhibition.

“Going to the woods, gathering and harvesting the timbers, the dyes and then bringing it home,” she said of her process. “I do it as artwork now. I do it because it’s traditional. It’s cultural. Whereas my mother did it for survival.”


Matt Peiken, BPR’s first full-time arts journalist, has spent his entire career covering arts and culture.
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