The Willow Weaver Book Project
A fourth-generation basketmaker, Viki Graber learned to weave willow from her father LeRoy Graber, an NEA 2009 National Heritage Fellow. While once the Graber family made workbaskets in the prairie lands of the Midwest, today Viki sells her baskets to collectors and at art shows. Using the same tools and methods as her great-grandfather, she translates traditional forms into contemporary works of art.
While the work of some artists in the United States is framed as contemporary craft, pieces by others are labeled as heritage practices. Conceiving of baskets as art or artifacts requires contextualization. Through the work of Viki Graber, this book project explores these competing regimes of value in craft and heritage scholarship, and the twists and bends that artists make to their work and identities to conform to these shifting contexts.
Jon Kay is Associate Professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, as well as the director of Traditional Arts Indiana. He is the author of Folk Art and Aging: Life-Story Objects and Their Makers and the edited volume, The Expressive Lives of Elders: Folklore, Art, and Aging. Kay also creates exhibitions, public programs, and documentaries about Indiana’s traditional arts and artists.