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Handmade Objects: Pine Needle Basketry
Bessie Johnson
Traditional materials and designs come together in new ways in Bessie Johnson's baskets. The West Point native was exposed to many different traditional art forms while growing up. Her father made cornshuck baskets and chair seats, her mother sewed and quilted, and older women in her community made pine needle baskets. Johnson learned from them but like many other African-American artists, she has experimented with older methods and created new forms. Her baskets come from new combinations of natural materials and traditional designs, such as her pine needle baskets that feature an old quilting pattern and decorative slices of walnuts. Johnson has popularized pine needle basketry in her area by teaching classes on the art form on a regular basis.

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Photo

Bessie Johnson beginning a pine needle basket.

Bessie Johnson describes the influence of her parents and other elders on her basketmaking.
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