Navajo Baskets on View at WSU’s Stewart Library

OGDEN, Utah – A new exhibit, “Willow Stories: Utah Navajo Story Baskets,” is on display at Weber State University’s Stewart Library. A Utah Arts Council Traveling Exhibition, it features basketwork created by four generations of Navajo women and illustrates how the role of the basket has changed over time in their society.

Baskets have traditionally held dual roles in Navajo society, both as vessels to hold household goods and as containers in various sacred ceremonies. Over time, a combination of factors, including the gradual replacement of these functional baskets with modern containers, and the strict taboos dictating how and when to weave ceremonial baskets, led to a decline in Navajo basket weaving.

During the 1970s, a revival of traditional basket weaving took place, with the focal point of activity located in the Utah Navajo communities in the Monument Valley area. Inspired by the art of the prehistoric Mimbres and Anasazi, neighboring tribes, and their own native patterns, these modern Navajo weavers developed a new hybrid style that uses animal images, human figures and illusionary geometric designs to depict traditional beliefs, stories and legends.

Presented by the Friends of the Stewart Library and curated by the Utah Arts Council’s Folk Art Program, “Willow Stories” features the work of 10 contemporary Navajo basket weavers from Utah and includes photographs as well as artist biographies.

The exhibit is on display inside the west entrance of the Stewart Library. It continues through April 11 and can be viewed during regular library hours: Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 9 p.m.

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Jamie Weeks, WSU associate curator of digital and archival collections

Courtesy of the Utah Arts Council