Beyond Tradition: Basketry of Laura Weber
January 21 - April 3, 2016
Basketmaker Laura Weber moves beyond the rich tradition of Native American basketry in Wisconsin or the fine craftsmanship of earlier “old world” immigrant artisans to make her own artful creations. Whether functional vessels or playful creations, Laura Weber masterfully incorporates found objects, metal wire, or natural materials into otherwise traditional forms, newly transformed.
Inspired by an array of forms and experiences, Laura Weber has been weaving handmade baskets for over twenty years. Weber’s education in fiber arts and traditional media began at a young age with her mother and grandmother. Both women crocheted, knitted, and sewed, and Weber herself learned to sew at age eight.
Laura’s introduction to basketry came later on, when she joined a group of neighbors to take a basket weaving class from Barbara Lythjohan. Like her beginnings in fiber arts, Weber’s initiation in basket weaving was a household affair, learning with a group of women in the kitchen. After entering the empty nest phase, Weber was able to create baskets more regularly and attend workshops with accomplished basket makers across the country.
Weber’s baskets are neither purely functional nor entirely decorative. Her work represents a balance between repetitive, controlled elements as well as unique, natural forms. Her traditional sources include Native American quivers and large storage baskets well as Shaker style cathead baskets. Catheads can be recognized by their unique shape; when flipped upside down, the points of the base resemble the ears of a cat’s head. Aside from the different forms Weber creates, she also employs an assortment of weaving patterns and techniques, such as twill weaving, tortoiseshell weaving, and quatrefoil designs. Twill weaving can be recognized by strong diagonal patterns. Quatrefoils are patterned around a four leaf design that extends from the base of the basket.
In addition to these patterns and techniques, Weber draws inspiration from a variety of fields to inform her process and the final product. Among these are experiences as seemingly unrelated as skating for the Ice Capades. The precision of choreographed movement and the decorative costume details of sequins and feathers frequently find a place in Weber’s work. Her favorite materials also include reed, ash, and upcycled components such as harnesses, buckles, metal, or parts of an inner tube. She also enjoys incorporating found materials like driftwood, brought to her by friends.
Laura Weber’s studio is currently in the Woolen Mill Building in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Her pieces have been exhibited at the Cedarburg Cultural Center, the Arts Mill in Grafton, and the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend, and her work is represented by the Pink Llama Gallery in Cedarburg. Laura continues to pass along the tradition of her art form through teaching. A schedule of her classes can be found on her website www.WeberArts.com.
“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” -E.B.White
And so it goes with my art. Left brain and right brain argue the whole day long. I am most comfortable when I am creating forms that are controlled, repetitive and functional. Yet I also long to cut loose with more natural and sculptural forms. So you will see in my work a combination of very differing styles. And the whole brain is happy.