Melissa Woodburn

I always knew I wanted to be an artist. Growing up in the woods in Iowa started me on a lifelong love affair observing cycles and rhythms of nature and talking to tall trees.

I started working with pine needles as a direct result of living under some messy long-needled pine trees. Pine needle baskets are an elegant recycled art form: the needles are only used when they are down and dry. I connect to the greater rhythms, cycles, and circles of life while coiling a basket.

Even though I’m using traditional materials and methods, I push the final product into a non-traditional sculptural vessel, while still honoring the original rhythms of the materials. The finished vessel makes statements about a moment in time, a sense of place, a cycle started, a cycle complete.

Meandering Canyons references a backpacking trip into the Grand Canyon southwest of the national park. We walked into canyons within canyons all day, winding and twisting through the environment. This basket is made from pine needles stitched with waxed thread, kiwi trimmings, horn beads, and vintage Mexican jasper.

Reflections of Earth And Sky references a trip to climb the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states: Mt. Whitney. We camped overnight at the tree line, surrounded by a ring of rugged sheer rocky peaks. With no man-made objects in sight, only the scrub trees softened the edge between earth and sky. This vessel is made from pine needles stitched with waxed thread, and glazed ceramic.

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