Engaged Learning

Thacher Exhibit Showcases Native American Resilience through Basketry

by Arvin Temkar, Office of Marketing Communications

USF’s Thacher Gallery will showcase more than 40 handcrafted baskets woven by Native Californians between the 18th and early 20th centuries, beginning Aug. 24.

Interwoven: Native California Basketry Arts from the Missions Forward highlights how indigenous basket weaving survived and evolved during the Spanish colonization in the mid-18th century.

The exhibit will coincide with the canonization of Fr. Junipero Serra, the Spanish priest who built several California missions and whom Pope Francis will declare a saint when he visits Washington, D.C. in September. That’s not by accident. The settling of California can be viewed from different perspectives after all, says Glori Simmons, gallery director.

“The fact that Interwoven coincides with Fr. Serra's canonization invites us to examine the legacy of the missions and colonization from a Native American point of view,” Simmons says. “It encourages students to ask questions and seek the truth about the past. At the same time, we hope that visitors will begin to see that history is not separate from the present, but created by us in the moment.”

The basket selection, which is made up of samples from world-renowned Chumash and Pomo weavers as well as from several other California tribes, is drawn from the collections of three California missions. The exhibit will feature functional baskets such as cradleboards — used to carry babies — as well as baskets that were made just for trading with Europeans. 

Interwoven was designed by USF graduate museum studies students, led by Stuart McKee, associate professor of design. A complimentary exhibit, Interwoven: Indigenous Contemporary, will feature art by Native Americans currently living in California. That exhibit opens on Nov. 16, just as Interwoven: Native California Basketry Arts from the Missions Forward wraps up.

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