Many Goldstein Museum of Design exhibitions provide a fresh look at objects that visitors think they already know about. Quest for the World's Best Baskets showcases over 200 baskets from around the world that may test visitors' preconceptions about what baskets can look like, what materials they can be made from, their uses, and their importance to a culture's sense of identity and its livelihood.
The baskets in this exhibition represent about one-fourth of the riches that resulted from collector Nancy Schermer's 40 years of world travels. The title reflects the sense of purpose that propelled Schermer's trips, to find the most beautiful and most interesting baskets on the planet. An educator, Schermer inspired exhibition curator Suzanne McArdle with the baskets' unique stories, which connect the baskets to the lives and circumstances of their makers.
Some of the basket stories from the exhibition include:
Since the 1970s, the Embera-Wounaan Indians of Panama's Darien rain forest have made baskets for sale to tourists and collectors. Their more recent baskets celebrate the gorgeously plumed birds of the rain forest .
In South Africa, the Zulus had long produced tightly-woven baskets from grasses and palm leaf. During Apartheid, urban Zulus began to substitute colorful recycled telephone wire. Today these unique baskets can be purchased on the internet.
Navajo and Hopi baskets may be familiar. Less familiar is the story of competition and cultural borrowing between these two cultures. The exhibition will show the subtly striking design results of this rivalry.
The diversity of materials and techniques in Appalachian baskets reflect the huge area comprising Appalachia. Today Appalachian baskets reveal an evolution from utility to art so complete that collectors now seek out Appalachian baskets by specific artists.
GMD's marketing partner for the exhibition is Grand Hand Gallery in St. Paul. The shop will present a collaborative exhibition, American Baskets: from Traditional to Contemporary, from Coast to Coast, June 2 - July 8, 2012.
Graphic design student Katie Moraczewski competed with her classmates in Associate Professor Daniel Jasper's GDXXXXX course to produce the winning design for Quest for the World's Best Baskets' graphic identity. Other student designs will be displayed in the atrium outside the gallery.