Artist ᎺᎵ ᏔᎻᏏᏂ Mary Welch Thompson (Eastern Band Cherokee) bridges traditional Cherokee culture and contemporary life. Working across media, including basket making and pottery, her forms and patterns embody a continuous lineage of Cherokee past and present. Since 2019, Thompson has served as the consulting artist for “The Basket,” a new public art installation in downtown Asheville designed to recognize, hold space, and increase public knowledge surrounding past and present Cherokee arts, culture, tradition, and language.
To honor Thompson’s expertise and significant contribution to this installation, the Center for Craft commissioned the artist to create three, large-scale river cane mats. The weavings, which were uniquely considered to be viewed in the round, incorporate traditional Cherokee patterns, such as “Peace Pipe” and “Noonday Sun,” as well as Thompson’s distinct compositions. Within the exhibition, you may note that Thompson has woven her syllabary mark as a signature in the bottom corner of each mat. These mats are on view for the first time alongside examples of the artists’ rivercane baskets and designs as part of this exhibition.