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Traditional Coast Salish Weaving with Karen Reed

Chinook/Puyallup basket weaver Karen Reed will exhibit baskets, mats and other examples of her art at the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Museum on Friday, August 22, 1-4pm, and again on Saturday, August 23, 10am-noon and 1-3pm.  Her event is the latest in a series on Salish culture, art, archaeology, and history that explore themes of the museum’s current special exhibit, “Vashon Island’s Native People: Navigating Seas of Change.”

Native artists spend as much time respectfully gathering and carefully processing materials as they spend on the process of actually weaving them into baskets and clothing. Karen Reed will display traditional weaving materials such as cattails, sweet grass, bear grass, wild cherry bark, and red cedar bark and roots. She will demonstrate some of the steps involved in preparing cedar bark.

While earning her degree at the University of Washington, Karen received the opportunity to study with her grandmother, Hattie Cross, and Beatrice Black of Taholah.  Anna Jefferson taught Karen to gather materials, and many methods of weaving with cedar. The many other teachers with whom she has studied include Bruce Miller, Nettie Jackson, Joey Lavadour, Pat Courtney Gold, Evelyn Vanderhoop, Lisa Telford and Holly Churchill.  One of her favorites was Hazel Pete, who “gave from her heart all the knowledge of using different materials and styles to any who would listen,” says Karen.

The Capital Museum in Olympia selected Karen as a master weaver and she has demonstrated basket weaving at many venues, including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., Washington State History Museum, The Burke Museum, and Seattle Art Museum.  She has also volunteered and taught at Northwest Indian College, the Northwest Native American Basketry Association conferences, the Hazel Pete Basketry Conference, Generations Rising at Evergreen College, the University of Washington, Bruce Miller’s Longhouse at Skykomish, and many other places.

Basketry is an integral part of Karen’s spirit. She believes it is something she was meant to do and that she has a responsibility to pass on the traditions and knowledge of basket making. Through teaching basketry and cultural awareness she works to erase stereotypes of natives and replace them with good feelings and accurate information.

For supporting the exhibit and these programs, the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Museum thanks the following sponsors: Humanities Washington, 4Culture, Puget Sound Energy, DIG, Beth de Groen/Windermere, Rick’s Diagnostic & Repair Service, The Hardware Store Restaurant, John L. Scott Real Estate, and the Northwest School of Animal Massage.