12" wide x 7 1/2" high
If you ask those in the know, among the top ten contemporary Navajo basket weavers, you will always hear Lorraine Black’s name mentioned. In this pictorial basket, circa 1990s, Lorraine has chosen a variety of themes based on the Navajo Creation stories. The turtle on top references water, moisture, and rain, something her high-desert homeland doesn’t get much of. The sitting birds and floating heads encircling the vessel reference the story of Talking God and how small birds relate to his existence and benevolent nature. Through her weavings, Lorraine Black is a wonderful representative of her rich cultural heritage.
Lorraine Black - Navajo Basketweaver: Inspired by dreams, Lorraine Black's skills have literally elevated basket weaving to new dimensions. Famous for her Horned Toad story basket, a three dimensional piece that won first place in the Navajo Show at The Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, as well as an award at the Gallup Ceremonials, Lorraine's work is distinctively original.
Lorraine Black's infectious laugh belies the serious magic her hands conjure up when weaving a basket. Unprecedented in her ideas, Lorraine's baskets are innovative and beautiful. Many of them make good use of texture through over-stitching and the addition of objects such as flint arrowheads.
The third daughter of Mary Holiday Black, Lorraine grew up in the family tradition of basket weaving. She began by harvesting young stalks of sumac in the springtime, from where it grows along water ways. She learned how to prepare it for weaving by splitting the willow shoots into three thin strips using teeth and fingers, removing the core, and then rubbing away the bark with buckskin. Her hands soon knew the cuts and sores created by handling the sumac, her cuts stained by the colors of the dyes.
After the intensive work of harvesting and processing is complete, then comes the challenge of beginning a basket. This requires holding together two layers of either three or five rods of unsplit willow, coiling them, and binding them together by interweaving the sumac strips. It is a challenge for the most skillful hands.
Learning to weave ceremonial baskets at about age thirteen, Lorraine continued in the art, quickly transcending traditional designs with new concepts in both design and color.
Now the mother of two young sons, Sebastian and Deon, Lorraine presently makes her home in a small town in Southeastern Utah. Still, her roots extend to Monument Valley, the place of her upbringing. Her art is influenced by her birthplace and her heritage from the Bitterwater and Folded Arm Clans.
Holding one of Lorraine's baskets, with its bright colors and intricate designs, you can almost hear her childlike laughter transcend the coils and spill into the room.