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Mary A. Jackson

Low Basket with Handle
sweetgrass, pine needles, and palmetto
16 x 17 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Marcia and Alan Docter

Mary Jackson is steeped in the Gullah traditions of basket making on South Carolina's Sea Islands. She sews her baskets from humble materials gathered in the wild, palmetto, long-leaf pine needles, and bullrush. The beauty of this basket lies in its play of circles. The circular form with its wide opening is reiterated in the upright handle. Like an engineer, Jackson understands how her materials will react under different conditions. For example, the handle attaches to the basket in such a way that it has a springlike drop when picked up or filled.