Art Deco Turtle Baskets (dates unknown)
“They call me turtle lady. I like doing turtle baskets,” says Elsie Holiday. Ch’ééh digháhii (Turtles) represent healing and protection in Diné (Navajo) culture and their shells are sometimes used in ceremonies. Elsie actually wove a basket with a modern design like the one in the center of these baskets first, based on a design created by Diné graphic artist Damian Jim. Then she wove three more baskets with the same pattern, but in different colors. Continuing her experimentation, she modified the modern motif and set it inside the shell of her favorite animal. Again, she riffed on this new pattern by varying the colors of the modern design, the turtles, and their backgrounds. The Art Deco Turtle series is a wonderful example of how collaboration serves as a catalyst for new designs and unexpected results in contemporary Diné basketry.