Photo: Kirstin Roper, © NHMU

Joann Johnson

Joann Johnson is a fourth-generation basket weaver and speaks passionately of this tradition in her family: “Weaving is a gift, I learned it from my mother (Betty Rock Johnson), who learned from her mother, who learned from her mother, my great-grandmother Ida Bigman. I feel close to her when I am weaving a basket.” After graduating from high school, Joann studied history and business at the College of Eastern Utah and Southern Utah University. When she returned to Tsé Bii’ndzisgai (Monument Valley) in 1992, her family introduced her to new basket designs. An award-winning weaver, Joann has an incredible sense of color and is renowned for capturing the hues of the Monument Valley landscape and sky in her baskets. “I have a sketchpad and I use colored pencils. I work out the colors . . . I go around and look at things, see the shadow and how [the colors] blend . . . It comes to me naturally . . .”