Artist: Lorraine Black

Materials: Sumac (Rhus trilobata)


Snake Basket (1995)

Tł’iish (snakes) are powerful. The Diné (Navajo) associate them with lightning and the earth. Interactions with snakes and images of them must be handled with great caution lest they result in spiritual harm. In Snake Basket, Lorraine Black takes a risk by weaving images of snakes on the sacred form of a basket. “I saw my grandfather put snakes into sand paintings,” she explains. When she decided to weave a snake basket, she received a blessing from her grandfather, a medicine man, for protection. Lorraine places four main snakes in line with the four directions. A white background provides contrast, highlighting the wriggling snakes who appear to emerge from the center of the basket and move toward the rim. The composition has a strong sense of order and balance, suggesting the care and respect the Diné give to this powerful being.