Artist: Joann Johnson

Materials: Sumac (Rhus trilobata)


Shiprock Basket (2005)

Joann Johnson is in love with color! Like many artists, she sees and explores the colors in the landscape. Joann portrays Tsé Bit’a’í (Shiprock), which dominates the outer rim of this basket, in shades of mysterious blues and purples. The night sky is visible between the rocks with a bright full moon overhead. The actual Shiprock rises 1,500 feet out of the New Mexico desert, its jagged igneous walls the remains of a spent volcano. Stories tell how Tsé Bit’a’í, or the “rock with wings,” was once a bird who carried the Diné (Navajo) on its back. Darker stories describe predatory monsters and the ghostly spirits of their stranded victims on the rocks. Is it the sunset that colors the tips of the jagged rocks red? Or the blood of the victims of the bird monsters who are said to have nested on the peaks?