The Basket

The Center for Craft is working in collaboration with members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to create a public art parklet to preserve and advance the important craft legacy of western North Carolina.

You can be a part of The Basket by making a donation to support the public art parklet today. To contribute to this project, please donate now.

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ABOUT THE DESIGN

Informed by ᎺᎵ ᏔᎻᏏᏂ, Mary Thompson, consulting artist and prolific Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians basketmaker, the parklet’s design references Cherokee basketry in its materials, structure, colors, patterns, and use.

Project Background

The conception of a parklet first began in 2017, when the Center initiated the Broadway Cultural Gateway Planning Project to transform the block surrounding 67 Broadway Street.

As a result, the area is now blossoming into a cultural gateway and arts destination to welcome residents and visitors to downtown Asheville. By engaging thousands of pedestrians with indigenous craft traditions, the parklet serves as a recognition of local Cherokee history and contemporary cultural contributions. Additionally, the parklet serves as an outdoor meeting space, fulfilling a need which has been made all the more apparent by our current pandemic.

Downtown Asheville street with buildings, person walking, and car driving.

Photo credit: David Huff

Four people standing on bridge proudly holding their woven baskets.

This photo was taken at an outdoor workshop Mary Thompson hosted for member of the Design-Build Team. From Left to Right: Kayla Councell, Mary Thomspon, Thomas Gibson, Tina Councell

Community Input

The Basket has been planned and developed in collaboration with members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and with input from the Asheville community. Basketmaker and EBCI member ᎺᎵ ᏔᎻᏏᏂ, Mary Thompson, serves as the consulting artist on the Design-Build Team.

Additionally, a feedback session was held with the Qualla Arts and Crafts Co-Op Board of Directors in January 2020 and a EBCI Planning and Advisory Committee met from July - November 2020 to inform the parklet’s design and interpretive materials. The Center is currently working with the New Kituwah Academy and the Cherokee Speakers Council to generate the Cherokee syllabary to be featured within the parklet.

Throughout summer 2020 we engaged community key stakeholders to update them on the progress of the parklet and seek feedback during the design development process. A total of 55 community members were invited, including local residents, property owners, and business owners (from Broadway Street to The Loft North), Coworkers with office space at the Center, Advisory and Design Team members from the Broadway Cultural Gateway Planning Project, and other community members. In total, we held eight, outdoor socially-distanced in-person and three virtual meetings.

Field Building

Renderings and Prototypes

Last November you may have seen us in front of the Center testing a small piece of the parklet for design and feasibility. A crucial step in the design process, the prototype was amazing to see in person! That chevron pattern cut-out of the steel decking is an abstraction of the basket pattern known as “falling water” and doubles as a drain for rainwater, snow, and ice.

Thanks to our downtown Asheville neighbors Peter Laine and Constance Ensner, Dane and Cynthia Barrager, and an anonymous donor for making the prototype possible!

Renderings by Osgood Landscape Architecture.

Field Building

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We continue to seek additional funding to ensure the success of this project.

Acknowledgements

Design-Build Team

  • Kayla Councell, Metalsmith, Iron Maiden Studios
  • Tina Councell, Designer & Maker, Iron Maiden Studios
  • Katie Dunn, Design Associate, Osgood Landscape Architecture; Enrolled citizen of Cherokee Nation
  • Thomas Gibson, Artisan builder, Ironwood Studios
  • Joel Osgood, Principal, Osgood Landscape Architecture
  • ᎺᎵ ᏔᎻᏏᏂ, Mary Thomspon, Artist, Veteran; Enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Public Art Parklet + Basketry Exhibition Committee and Advisors

  • ᏥᏥ, Joshua Adams, Artist and Teacher, Cherokee High School; Enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
  • DᏓᎪᏔ ᎤᏬᏗᎨ, Dakota Brown, Education Director, Museum of the Cherokee Indian; Enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
  • Gabe Crowe, Artist; Enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
  • Vicki Cruz, Manager, Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc.; Enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
  • Adam Griffith, Project Director, Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources
  • TJ Holland, Cultural Resources Supervisor EBCI Junaluska Museum; Enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
  • Hope Huskey, Associate Director, Sequoyah Fund;  Enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
  • ᎦᎵᏣᏗ ᏓᎦᎶᏏ, Bo Lossiah, Kituwah Preservation and Education Program; Enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
  • ᎺᎵ ᏔᎻᏏᏂ, Mary Thompson, Artist, Veteran; Enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Center for Craft Project Team

  • Stephanie Moore, Executive Director
  • Mike Marcus, former Assistant Director, Creative Placekeeping
  • Marilyn Zapf, Assistant Director and Curator (Project Leader)
  • Erika Kofler, Operations Director
  • Lola Clairmont, Craft Research and Innovation Manager

The Basket is dedicated in memory of TJ Holland, former Cultural Resources Supervisor, Junaluska Museum, and a proud member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Holland served on the Public Art Parklet + Basketry Exhibition Committee until his recent passing. Holland’s immeasurable contributions to the EBCI culture and community will continue to be recognized and honored through this project.

A woven basket with crosshatch pattern.

Outdoor workshop Mary Thompson hosted for members of the Design-Build Team.

Field Building