Basket exhibit celebrates Cherokee, Southern Appalachian artists

Jay FitzEast Knox

Cherokee basketry and Southern Appalachian basket styles are on display now at Pellissippi State Community College’s Strawberry Plains Campus.

The “All the Eggs in One Basket” exhibit curated by Art Professor Jeffrey Lockett is free and open to the public through the college’s Appalachian Heritage Project, which is housed in the Strawberry Plains Campus Library.

“Abundant river cane in the Southern Appalachians contributes to its widespread use in weaving and basketry,” Lockett said. “The known works of the 17th century Cherokee Indians introduced the unique combination of materials and weave patterns using this cane.”

Most baskets on display in the exhibit were made by Jimmy Lawrence of Clinton, Tennessee. Lawrence, born in 1937 in Abingdon, Virginia, is a Virginia Tech-educated mechanical engineer with a lifelong fascination with Appalachian crafts. He and his wife, Gail, have a collection of Southern folk art, crafts and utilitarian ware at their home.

“Jimmy says his curiosity for Southern crafts together with his engineering background has allowed him to approach basketmaking and weaving as an artform as well as an achievement in engineering,” said Lockett, who named the exhibit in honor of the variety of Lawrence’s traditional egg baskets that are on display.

All works in the exhibit are from the collections of Lawrence or Lockett.

The Strawberry Plains Campus Library is open 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday.

Pellissippi State contributed information and quotes for this article.


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