Monday, November 29, 2010

Artist, JoAnne Russo

This is the work of JoAnne Russo, contemporary basketmaker from Maine. This is part of her "Pod" series. What attracts me to her work is her use of unexpected materials like buttons, and zippers, and eyehooks. her application creates an unusual sophisticated surface design, they transcend their use and take on a new meaning.

Ms. Russo started making baskets in 1984. She was inspired by the works and basket techniques of the basketmakers of long ago from Mount Agamenticus in York, Maine. She was able to learn their techniques and incorporate them into her work. It involved selecting the right kind of Ash tree, splitting the wood for handles and rims using tradtional tools and then finally weaving the basket. She was also inspired by basket makers from Native Americans from the north east and the southwest. She started to incorporate porcupine quills and other natural materials which gave texture and individual presence to each peice she refers to as "Animism".

Here is a close-up. These pieces are from the "zip it" series.

Above is a shot of the inside. The buttons used create a wonderful 3d textural element to the
surface. Below is a basket whose top is made using acorns.

Her use of simple acorns adds a certain quiet elegance to this piece.

The pieces also look wonderful together as a group in the "chili pepper" series.

The curves in the eye hooks look like an ornate surface design I featured in my last blog, the
surface decoration of architect Robert Adam .

I am always impressed by taking unconventional materials and using them in such a poetic way. Russo has won numerous awards. Her pieces have been purchased by several museums including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

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