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About the Artist

 

 

In 1988, my mother, who was a professional weaver, called to inform me that I had to take up basketmaking. She had just taken a workshop and loved it.  Always ready for something new, I signed up for a class with Judy Olney at DeCordova Museum. I have never looked back.

I spent ten years working off and on with Judy as I juggled basketmaking with the other parts of my life.  Her patience in showing me over and over how to do a step up will always be appreciated.  I have also worked with other accomplished basketry artists such as Lissa Hunter, Kari Lonning, Jackie Abrams and Marilyn Moore, who taught me tricks and techniques and asked all the right questions about design and concept. Several sessions at Haystack moved me along as an artist.

Trips to the American Southwest and Alaska allowed me to work with Native American artists gathering natural materials and studying their weaving traditions. I will never, however, be able to split willow properly.

Professionally I have been a teacher, both at the secondary and university levels, and a journalist. I covered education nationally for newspapers and magazines and had a great time.

Community involvement has been an important part of my life. For ten years I worked with Young Audiences of Massachusetts to get performing artists into schools and I set up and ran a volunteer program at the Ronald MacDonald House in Palo Alto many years ago. Planned Parenthood has been a major commitment and I have served in many ways from volunteering in the clinic to serving on the Board in Massachusetts. I have been on a committee at Children Hospital in Boston that reviews research protocols for more years than I can remember. And I have just become an Overseer at DeCordova Museum.  This past year I took on the role of president of the National Basketry Organization.

In 1999, I started to shed professional and some community obligations. My maternal responsibilities were easing off, and I decided it was time to either become a studio artist or shut up about wanting to do it. Knowing I would never shut up, I set up a studio and started acting like a "serious" artist, mailing list and all.

Now I spend most of my days working with fiber in one way or another, although the dogs can easily convince me it is time for a walk and I am easily persuaded to pack my bags and head to the airport to go just about anywhere.  This past year I got myself a camper/van and have started taking road trips around the country.

I live in the South End of Boston where I am within walking distance of museums, galleries and involved with a rich community of artists and friends.  Sometimes I teach, but for the most part I am focusing (always hard for me) on my Landscape baskets which take a lot of time to complete.  (I estimate an hour per square inch.)  Hours of every day are spent listening to books on tape and weaving in light of the big window in the back parlor, or at my studio at 450 Harrison Avenue.  It is a good life.

 

 

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lorussell@hotmail.com
 
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