Oakland, Illinois 1943
- Alfred Station, New York
Luce Artist Quote
". . . before baskets I made sculpture. The transition came during a time I was working with sod . . . I worked this living material into works of art [and from] these pieces I moved to ideas surrounding the way man uses trees as metaphors for himself in nature." Artist quoted in Skilled Work, 1998
John McQueen earned a B.A. degree at the University of South Florida in Tampa in 1971 and an M.F.A. degree at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in 1975. He was the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1977, 1979, and 1986.
McQueen's baskets are created from the materials he finds near his rural New York State farm, including twigs, bark, flowers, weeds, and vines—anything that comes from the earth. Although his baskets are in the shape of vessels, they do not function as containers. Increasingly they relate to trees.
Kenneth R. Trapp and Howard Risatti Skilled Work: American Craft in the Renwick Gallery (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998)
Luce Artist Biography
John McQueen received a master of fine arts degree from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia in 1975. He has worked in many media and refers to himself not as a weaver or a sculptor, but as a "maker." McQueen creates objects that explore the idea of what a basket truly is. He likes to ask if a basket must be hollow and empty, or if it can be a solid object with no interior. Whether working in New Mexico or in upstate New York, he uses the trees and plant materials of his immediate environment to create works that express the connections between human beings and nature. For McQueen, the work of weaving or assembling a basket involves the same creative energy that exists in all living things.