Mitchell-Giddings hosts exhibit by basket maker/fiber artist Jackie Abrams
Jackie Abrams in her studio.

Mitchell-Giddings hosts exhibit by basket maker/fiber artist Jackie Abrams

BRATTLEBORO — Mitchell-Giddings Fine Arts, 181 Main St., presents “Jackie Abrams: 45 Years of Making,” starting Saturday, May 29, from noon to 7 p.m., with an artist reception from 5 to 7 p.m.

This final, inclusive retrospective allows Abrams to share a large selection of woven baskets and non-functional vessels created during a 45-year career of learning, experimenting, and constructing. The entire exhibit is also available online.

“It started in 1975 when I visited the Basket Shop in Chesterfield, Mass., owned and operated by 81-year-old Benjamin Higgins,” Abrams said in a news release. “He made traditional and functional woven baskets of pounded white ash trees, a technique he learned from his father. I spent six months as his apprentice; it changed my life.”

Abrams has been a basket maker and fiber artist since then. For 13 years, she made functional baskets using natural materials. Wishing for enlivened color, the artist began to explore other techniques, other materials, and the possibilities of contemporary, non-functional vessels. Her exploration of plaiting techniques and use of heavy cotton paper as a creative structural material has enhanced the world of contemporary basketry.

“I create vessels with texture and color, in forms that are woven, stitched, layered, and constructed,” Abrams said. “Each piece can stand alone, or can be connected and related with other pieces in support and unity, representing a community of women with stories to share.”

“I collaborate with each piece as it develops, working intuitively, allowing a dialogue to emerge, with the colors and textures of the materials informing the vessels as I create them,” she continued. “My materials may include archival or recycled papers, sand, acrylic paint, silk or cotton fabrics, wire, recycled plastic bags, encaustic wax, thread, buttons, or stones.”

She exhibits her work at fine art and craft shows, galleries, and museums, and is represented in many collections, most notably the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Museum of Scotland.

Her work has appeared in numerous fiber arts and fine craft books. She has received grants from both the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Community Foundation.

During all these years, Abrams has taken and presented workshops worldwide, worked with indigenous women in both Africa and Central America, and been “inspired by the artistry of so many. Each new series of vessels has become an adventurous pathway and has fostered Abrams' exploration of the deep connection between art and social justice,” she said.

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