Maine Indian Basketry is an exhibition on view now through June 30 at Maine Fiberarts, 13 Main St. in Topsham. The exhibition includes 78 baskets woven by more than 30 Wabanaki basketmakers, loaned from 12 different sources. The public is invited to attend a reception and art conversation with Penobscot basketmaker Theresa Secord will take place 2-5 p.m. Sunday, May 24.
The Wabanaki or People of the Dawn include members of the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmac tribes who hail from the northern and Down East regions of Maine. They have a long standing tradition of weaving baskets prized for their utility and fine craftsmanship.
Since January, members of a curatorial committee have been gathering baskets for the Maine Fiberarts show from the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, from Home and Away Gallery in Kennebunkport, from several private collectors, and from the artists themselves. Baskets include both historical and contemporary examples. While the materials used are mainly brown ash and sweetgrass, the techniques employed vary widely. Point baskets, curly baskets, handkerchief, alewife, button, sewing and birch baskets are all on view. Baskets shaped like corn and radishes, stand next to work baskets with handles, and baskets that are 18-inches tall. The exhibition includes the work of David Moses Bridges, Pam Cunningham, George Neptune, Clara Keezer, Molly Neptune Parker, Jeremy Frey, Fred Tomah, Mary Sanipass, Theresa Secord and Sarah Sockbeson, to name only a few.
Special programming to coincide with the exhibition will also take place. On Sunday, May 24, Theresa Secord, former executive director of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, will offer an art conversation at a reception for the exhibition. Secord served as an adviser and lead curator to the project, along with Gretchen Faulkner of the Hudson Museum in Orono.
- Saturday, June 13, Passamaquoddy basket maker George Neptune will offer a talk 1-3 p.m.
- Saturday, June 13 at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick on the topic of “Collecting Maine Baskets.” Theresa Secord will offer a hands-on workshop, “Weaving an Ash and Sweetgrass Bookmark,” 1-2 p.m.
- Saturday, June 20, at Topsham Public Library. Admission to the workshop is free to the first 20 people who sign up by emailing email@example.com or by calling 725-1727.
The Maine Indian Basketry Exhibition is sponsored by Bangor Savings Bank, Maine Humanities Council, Maine Arts Commission, Maine Community Foundation and by several individuals who value this art form.