Sherri West

I create contemporary basketry forms by combining traditional basketry techniques with not-so-traditional materials and patience. I like to think that what I do respects the natural environment as well as honoring basket makers and what has historically been considered traditional “women’s work.”

I found my way to basketry while studying for a BFA in Art Education at the University of Arizona in the 1970’s, instantly loving the feel of making “something from nothing” with my hands and a few simple materials.  I was in awe of the Native American baskets where I grew up in the southwest, and I became a collector. This inspired me to learn traditional basketry techniques and develop craftsmanship that I could be proud of.

Today I invite people to pick up my baskets and cradle them in their hands.  The packed waxed linen forms can still have the feel and presence of hardened clay pottery, a certain reflection of my days in the desert southwest.

Through the years, my travels, and several moves that I made across the country, I learned about other regional basketry traditions and materials in  diverse environments.  At the same time, my own baskets evolved from the traditional to the more sculptural.  I enjoy innovating and stretching the limits of the techniques to shape sculptural forms and to tell a story.

With my recent move from Minnesota to Santa Barbara, I am again exploring examples of master basketry, history, culture and landscape of a new place.  In addition, the lessons of nature near the beach and the fire-scorched mountains have both inspired and humbled me.  I look forward to a wealth of new stories to learn and translate into my basketry forms.

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