Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Sweet Greet

 [Sweet Vase Basket by Kisha Rawlinson.]

In the past I've mentioned my affinity for sweetgrass baskets made using traditional West African techniques. For centuries these baskets have been created in South Carolina (most notably in Charleston and Mt. Pleasant) and they are associated with some coastal areas of Georgia, too. MacArthur Fellow, fiber artist, and Gullah descendant, Mary Jackson is a famous example of someone who does innovative designs incorporating the old techniques (her work is represented in the Gibbes, the MFA, Boston, and the White House Collection of Arts and Crafts, among others).

But from time to time I browse a non-traditional source, Etsy, to see if any young artisans are also doing new things with the time-tested medium and making their wares available through a highly accessible forum.

Kisha Rawlinson is. Her small Etsy shop, Sweet Greet, currently has just two pieces in stock, one of which is this sculptural vase that immediately caught my eye. On her profile page, Mt. Pleasant native Rawlinson writes that she is interested in woodturning, pottery, and sculpture. These influences really shine through in her basketry work.

Click here to learn more about a related exhibition, Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art, on view at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art through November 28, and the accompanying catalogue.

And speaking of regional traditions, just want to remind everyone that Pecans on Peachtree is underway. This annual sale is a fundraiser for Shepherd Center, an Atlanta-based, not-for-profit rehabilitation hospital and cutting-edge research facility ranked as one of the top ten of its kind in the United States. Shepherd is best known for treating teens and adults with catastrophic spinal cord and brain injuries, but works with people with other neuromuscular disorders as well.

BTW: The packaging of the sweet and savory pecans is nice and simple! Options include classic red, silver, gold, and tartan tins, understated cellophane bags, and a deluxe tower with a ribbon.


balsamfir said...

I'd always associated sweet grass with Alaskan Native traditions, but after reading your post and googling a bit, it seems there are many Native and African American Sweetgrass traditions, with different techniques. The wrapping technique you show I'd thought was used only on pine needles and thought was Cherokee, but apparently not. They are, of course, all beautiful.

Style Court said...

Hi Balsamfir --

Yes, definitely all beautiful. It's a fascinating subject because I grew up only familiar with the baskets of African and African American origin. I think on her Etsy page Kisha explains the variety of grasses she uses. And the video on the MacArthur page is helpful.

Style Court said...

Oops, I think I meant the American Craft Council link (the "sweetgrass" link in my first paragraph).

Karena said...

The art of basketry is so very interesting. Thank you for shring Courtney.


Art by Karena

Unknown said...

For those of you near Washington, DC - the Smithsonian Museum of African Art currently has a huge sweetgrass basket exhibit up. And Mary Jackson will be teaching a workshop on basket making at the Anacostia Community Museum of the Smithsonian so go to the site and sign up on the mailing list to stay informed if you are interested.

Style Court said...

Susana -- thanks so much! I see it's the Grass Roots show mentioned above Sorry I overlooked the Smithsonian dates. I'll add a link ASAP.