Artist: Mary Black

Materials: Sumac (Rhus trilobata)


Spider Woman Crosses Basket (1994)

“My work has taken me to places I thought I would never go,” says master weaver Mary Holiday Black of her 1995 trip to Washington D.C. to receive a National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. While visiting the Smithsonian, Mary and her daughter, Sally Black, saw Diné (Navajo) baskets from the turn of the century and were inspired to keep their designs alive. The crosses in this basket represent the symbol of Na'ashjé'íí Asdzą́ą́ (Spider Woman) who instructed Diné women how to weave. Choosing to place the colorful red crosses against a contrasting background of white, Mary gives new life to an old tradition. Thin black lines distinguish the four directions. She encircles the rim in black and gives the basket a traditional herringbone finish.