Basket Case

Basket weaving can be wild. Really. A stroll through the newest exhibit at the Arizona State University Art Museum proves it. "The Ties That Bind: Fiber Art by Ed Rossbach and Katherine Westphal," featuring works from the Daphne Farago collection, explores the lives and work of a husband and wife who turned traditional basket weaving into a crazy lot of fun.

Rossbach and Westphal literally weave pop art into traditional basket making. Using anything and everything, from electrical tape and tin foil to plastic dinosaurs and tie-dyed cloth, the duo has created a menagerie of surprising and delightful fiber art. The two untamed basket weavers have even managed to incorporate images of John Travolta and Mickey Mouse into this display of 70 baskets, garments, textiles and two-dimensional pieces.

The exhibit spans more than 35 years of the artists' careers with works from 1960 to 1996, and illustrates the immense impact they have had on the contemporary fiber arts movement. "They were really key in opening up the fiber field -- in making it more free form and allowing for experimentation," says Heather Lineberry, senior curator at the museum.

Though both Rossbach and Westphal have worked as professors, writers and lecturers, their art is not a product of academia, but the expressive stuff of the soul. Rossbach has said of his art: "More and more I don't want my work to be refined and craftsmanly -- I like the idea of just doing it in the most direct and simple way, and don't bother with refining it, carrying it to its highest state. I don't want it to be hard, I want it to be joyous."

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Maria Luisa Tucker