Chatham County, North Carolina is a lovely rural environment, just perfect for artists to create and show their work. Chatham's visual and performing artists offer unique authentic creations, just minutes from the Triangle, Triad and Southern Pines communities.
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*Copyright of Forrest C. Greenslade, PhD
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Basket Maker Weaves Diverse Experiences into a Creative Life
Dunn can walk her Golden Retriever Buckeye to the Haw River from her Chatham
County home and studio. “The other day, we were sitting on the river bank
looking at the rushing water riffling around a large rock out in the water,”
she explains. “My mind immediately turned that image into a woven pattern,” she
continues. Over the last few years, Dunn has purposefully woven a lifetime of
personal experiences, love of nature, and supportive friendships into her
unique creative artworks.
Jan Dunn in her Chatham County Studio
Dunn was born in Alabama while her Organic Chemist father attended graduate
school. Growing up involved moves to Nebraska, Delaware, Ohio and Virginia, as
dad finished his education and pursued a career. “Our family life centered on
hiking, exploring and sailing,” she recalls, “always around nature”. She earned
a degree in Psychology at Virginia Tech.
took Dunn to Florida and finally North Carolina with her ecologist/naturalist
husband, a life again strongly influenced by the natural world. “I guess I
played more of a supportive role and took advantage of opportunities to
experience nature”, she reflects. “Our past-times were gardening, camping,
learning about nature,” she states. “I loved learning about nature’s constant
Dunn enhanced basket
works primarily in government jobs, currently at the EPA, in information
technology, usually in database development. “I was searching for a past-time
that would spark creativity, as well as produce tangible results for my
efforts,” she relates.“Baskets had
always tugged at me when browsing in craft galleries, and my mother-in-law’s
basket making gave me a gentle nudge.” She took a couple of short courses in
basket making at Raleigh’s Sertoma Art Center. Several years later, she
discovered basket maker Susan Laswell at the Carrboro Farmer’s Market, who
weaves baskets made with beautiful colors and patterns.“Under her tutelage, I was completely smitten
with basket making,” Dunn asserts.
creative life recently became more focused by a period of personal challenge.
“I lost both of my parents, and my marriage of thirty-plus years became
unraveled,” she reveals. “Looking back, those experiences pushed me to a place
where I was more open to enjoying my art – I hadn’t realized how much I loved
it”.Dunn now meets with basket-making
friends each week to weave and share ideas. “The influence of fellow weavers
has encouraged me to think outside the box (or basket),” she quips.
ancient traditions and designs of basket making have influenced Dunn’s work.
Traditional weaving techniques are coupled with natural and unconventional
materials.“I enjoy incorporating
contemporary twists into baskets and weavings, adding beads and found natural
objects as well as personal mementos to add a touch of whimsy to the pieces,”
original designs are inspired by nature – colors and patterns seen in wood
grain, fungi, and riffles in a river.“It’s challenging to translate those impressions to a medium that is
primarily linear,” she explains.“The
weaving materials guide the design, but sometimes, the basket ‘speaks’ to me to
change the direction.The predictable
rhythm of weaving, and pleasing touch of the fibers has a meditative quality
that generates a creative peace.”
Dunn is one of the many regionally and nationally recognized artists and fine
crafts people who will open their studios the first two weekends in December at
the 20th Annual Chatham Studio Tour. Visitors from all around enjoy
Chatham’s rural beauty and share with the members of the Chatham Artists Guild
in the creative process. It is a holiday tradition, and an opportunity to
purchase unique original art. She will exhibit in collaboration with her friend
and fellow Guild artist Jane Eckenrode.