An exceptional basket weaver, Mamie Gregory was a Panamint Shoshone who lived from 1867 to 1947. Born at Indian Gardens near Darwin in Death Valley, CA (one of the hottest places on earth) she is known for her elegantly created storage vessels.
As a young adult Mamie married tribal member George Gregory, whose name was adopted from his employer, and moved to the old mining town of Coso Hot Springs. Working for a dollar a day she cleaned houses and took care of the laundry for neighbors. She walked 5 miles to work each morning, returning home at night to weave baskets and prepare the materials needed for this craft. All this in a dry, arid, harsh environment.
Utilizing a high stitch and coil count, Mamie's baskets went from utilitarian storage baskets to smaller gift baskets coinciding with the Curio Trade of the early 1900's. Now highly valued, her remaining baskets are housed in private and museum collections. And they are spectacular!
Frequent use of a butterfly design on her baskets earned her the title, Madame Butterfly. The grace and beauty of her designs (which included lizards, spirals, and other shapes as well as the butterfly), the careful craft and excellent weave earned her the distinction as one of the world's finest basket weavers.
Acrylic on canvas
Joining the other paintings in my Indian Women Portrait series, this painting is designed to honor Mamie Gregory and her elegantly created baskets.
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