Deborah Valoma: Scrape the Willow Until It Sings

Scrape the Willow Until It Sings
Heyday, 2013
Paperback, 288 pages, $35

Over the last 50 years of diligent study and experimentation, Julia Parker (CCA Honorary Doctorate 2006) has emerged as one of the preeminent Native American basket makers of California. Distinguished Coast Miwok-Kashaya Pomo elder and longtime resident of Yosemite Valley, Parker is a prolific artist, teacher, and storyteller. Her body of work confirms that Native basketry is a thriving, ever-changing art form and a vital component of contemporary cultural production.

Alongside Parker's sensitively photographed work, the basket maker's words are stitched throughout with essays by the artist and scholar Deborah Valoma, chair of CCA’s Textiles Program. Valoma describes the historical and philosophical implications of basketry from a non-Native perspective. Basing her work on rigorous scholarship and a long-term personal relationship between author and artist, Valoma peels back cultural assumptions about Native American basketry to reveal the relevance of Parker’s embodied philosophies of thinking and making in the twenty-first century.