Meet our Grantees – Mavis Muller’s Burning Baskets Project

The Black Rock Arts Foundation was pleased to fund the Burning Basket Project as part of our 2007 Grants-to-Artists Program, to travel to Hawaii, connecting the geographically disparate communities across the Pacific through a common, temporal event.
The ‘Burning Basket Project’, developed in Homer, Alaska by Mavis Muller, is designed to unite geographically disparate communities through recognition and celebration of the connecting elements that span the Pacific Ocean between Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands. The project involves a series of free workshops in communities in Alaska, and Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii. The workshops invite participants from diverse areas of the community to participate in the construction of a large (8 to 10 foot) intricately woven basket sculpture using natural indigenous materials such as grasses and a variety of plant and tree fibers. Volunteers participate in all elements of fabrication, including gathering, design and weaving.
During a short exhibition community members are encouraged to add mementos to the baskets through the addition of written thoughts, sentiments, or objects; in this way the sculpture becomes civic property, woven with personal relevance. Each project culminates when the community is invited to gather for a potluck dinner, artist talk, and performances; then at sundown, the torch is lit and the basket ignited. In an effort to serve her community Mavis has worked to draw together a wide cross section of participating groups and individuals. In Homer, Alaska, the Native Alaskan community includes the burning ritual as part of their Healing Alcoholism seminar, and local mental health services offer a workshop on ‘letting go’.
Mavis has completed 12 basket burns in Alaska and California over the past four years and our grant the Black Rock Arts Foundation is proud to help extend her work to new communities.

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