Referencing the early collections amassed by wealthy Patrons, contradictory characters whose enthusiasm for science and discovery often led them to collect objects with little regard for the natural systems or cultures they were disrupting
Carol Eckert employs a simple basketry technique, coiling, to construct a myriad of forms. With invented adaptations of this ancient process, she constructs vessels, staffs, books, wall pieces, and installations — all referencing the complex interaction of humans with the natural world. Her work is imbued with mythological references, which have expanded to encompass deep concerns for the environment and the intricate web of all living things.
Eckert’s work is exhibited extensively and is included in many public collections, including Denver Art Museum, CO; de Young Museum/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA; Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA; Museum of Arts and Design, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Racine Art Museum, WI; Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Statement from the artist
My studio shelves are filled with books: art and mythology texts, poetry collections and natural history chronicles, along with antique volumes of Aesop’s Fables and reproductions of medieval bestiaries. Creation stories, tales of journeys and quests, parables of good and evil, prophecies of transformation — these are the stories that find their way into my work, not as specific narratives, but as references to the connections between people across continents and centuries, and to the natural worlds they inhabit.
I also find myself immersed in the contradictory stories of the early naturalists, whose fascination with nature led them to kill and collect specimens across the globe, laying the groundwork for museums by creating “cabinets of curiosity,” while establishing the foundations of modern ecology despite their plundering.
Though my titles often provide glimpses into these sources, I intend for viewers to bring the complexities of their own experience and perception to the work.
The process I use to construct my works is an invented adaptation of an ancient basketry technique, coiling. Fabricating each piece is a time-intensive process, with forms built up slowly, stitch by stitch and row by row. The pieces are complex, but the technique is simple, requiring only a threaded needle.