Emily is a self-taught, award-winning fiber artist. She grew up in New Jersey in the 50s, a child of an intellectual family. Her father was a psychiatrist, and her mother was a high school teacher. Growing up, she was told her creativity and artistic approach were “cute”.
In college, in the 60s, Emily majored in foreign languages because that felt more appropriate to her parents than art did. She got married and went to graduate school for her Masters Degree in Teaching, and then taught third grade for four years until she left to start a family.
Her husband’s job took her and her family to California in the 70s, where they settled in Marin County, outside of San Francisco. She partnered with a friend to open Various & Sundries, a contemporary crafts store in San Anselmo, California.
In the early 80s, she took a basket workshop in the basement of the old Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, and her life was forever changed. She had done a lot of macramé before, but here she realized that basketry and three-dimensional work were what she truly loved. Emily had little formal art training, other than workshops here and there, including four years in a Fiber Sculpture studio class. Emily began offering workshops of her own in the 90s and in the early 2000s brought basketry classes to elementary and high school classrooms.
In 2008, after owning and operating Various & Sundries for 35 years, and enabling other artists to gain wider audience and appreciation for their work, Emily retired to live her life’s dream of being a full-time artist. She now has a studio in Sausalito, California. She continues to teach classes for both adults and children, and she speaks, consults and exhibits all around the country.
I call myself a sculptural basket maker. I am known for my innovative, “transordinary” vessels. Challenging the original definition of basketry, I explore contemporary interpretations of this traditional craft, utilizing non-traditional materials. I transform the ordinary through the processes of manipulation, construction, alteration, patterning, layering, repetition of singular elements, coiling, weaving and assembling to create dense arrangements of common, urban objects. I sculpt with fiber and interact with material, pattern, color, design, shape and texture.
My use of re-purposed, re-contextualized materials is commentary on overconsumption of commercial goods, societal excess and throwaway consumerism. My work references everyday life and our relationship with our urban environment. I use the vessel form with an emotional and personal vocabulary to speak about life’s issues. Color and texture, whimsy, exuberance, optimism, and a sometimes-edgy approach, always enter into my work. I am materials-driven and anything is basket material! My process is intuitive and the ideas evolve as I create, building and growing as layers present themselves. I am in constant conversation with myself and my piece. Each piece has a story and is different and challenging and unique. Therein lies the joy for me.