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Rural Traditions, Modern Ties Interwoven in Baskets from Appalachia and the Andes

by Derrick Meads & Sarah Geegan

An exhibit titled “Interwoven: Rural Traditions, Modern Ties ~ Baskets from Appalachia and the Andes” will showcase more than 100 pieces of basketry from Ecuador and Appalachia at the Lexington Public Library’s Central Gallery.

The wide-ranging exhibit of baskets opened Nov. 3, and spans from Nov. 12-16. A reception will be held at 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16, at the gallery, during the final day of UK’s "International Education Week.”

The Ecuadorian work ranges from baskets made by Huaorani and Kichwa indigenous groups in the Amazon Basin and Andean highland, to modern pieces collected in major cities. The Appalachian exhibited works also span across white oak baskets to modern contemporary craft.

In early 2012 the U.S. Embassy in Quito, Ecuador, invited Kentucky-Ecuador Partners (KEP) to collaborate on programming for their “Year of Rural America.” In response to this invitation Joe Molinaro, professor of art at EKU, and Kay Roberts, executive director for KEP, gathered baskets, photos and information on items they gathered from the Huaorani and lowland Kichwa communities, while Herb Goodman, chair of Eastern Kentucky University’s Department of Art & Design, and the project director and curator of the exhibit, collected baskets from Ecuador’s Andean highlands and coasts and Appalachia.

“Through Partners, I've had the opportunity to visit various indigenous communities in the rainforest and have been intrigued by their ability to utilize what the jungle provides to meet their daily needs,” Roberts said. “While collecting items for the exhibit, I had the amazing experience of watching a pile of palm leaves turn into a fish trap under the nimble hands of my friend Cesar, and being able to tell friends Hector and Basilio that their baskets would be featured in an international exhibit.” 

The University of Kentucky supports the state's official relationship with Ecuador, Kentucky-Ecuador Partners, through the nonprofit umbrella organization Partners of the Americas. Founded in 1964, Partners of the Americas links U.S. states with Latin American and Caribbean countries in partnerships that use the energy and skills of citizen volunteers, their institutions and communities to address shared concerns of social, economic and cultural development.

Kentucky-Ecuador Partners was founded in 1964, and the University of Kentucky has supported the chapter as one of its global initiatives since 1969.

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, supports “Interwoven: Rural Traditions, Modern Ties. Baskets from Appalachia and the Andes” with state and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The exhibit is also supported in part by a grant from the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State through Partners of the Americas; the United States Embassy, Quito, Ecuador; Kentucky-Ecuador Partners; U.S. Department of State; Kentucky Arts Council; the Lexington Public Library; the University of Kentucky Office of International Affairs; and Eastern Kentucky University.

The exhibit will travel to Centro Culural Itchimbia in Quito, Ecuador, this spring.

Lexington Public Library’s Central Gallery is located at 140 E. Main St.