2010-09-11

Celebrating the Life and Art of Shereen LaPlantz


American basket artist, book artist, writer and publisher Shereen LaPlantz was born February 9, 1947. She died, all too soon seven years ago today, September 11, 2003 after losing a valiant fight against breast cancer.

Shereen was involved in many artistic pursuits throughout her life. She initially studied textiles at California State University. After graduating in 1968, she continued to explore fabric design and weaving at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. In 1970 she married artist David LaPlantz, a jeweler and metalsmith and established LaPlantz Studios in Bayside, California. From there she turned her vision to basketry; writing and teaching extensively. She and her staff published the "The News Basket" and several editions of "Basketry Round-up" along with many books by other authors, slide sets, notecards, basketry posters and pamphlets. I worked for her as Guild Liason for "The News Basket" collecting and sharing news and notes of basket-related events and organizations around the country. I was on the faculty with her at the 1991 Stowe Basketry Festival and helped her in small measure to co-ordinate one of the basketry conferences she produced in Smithville, Tennessee.



She was known for her multi-layered plaited and twill baskets and shared her expertize with countless students in person and through her many books and instructional articles.

In the late 1980's after many years in basketry the late Humboldt County, California artist turned her attention and talents to book arts. She taught workshops, wrote several books including two considered seminal in the field; Cover to Cover: Creative Techniques for Making Beautiful Books, Journals, & Albums, and The Art & Craft of Handmade Books. She was one of the founding members of North Redwoods Book Arts Guild and helped organized a book arts conference with them. Earlier this year there was a retrospective exhibit of the artist’s personal collection of handmade books and teaching materials at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. The coverage of the exhibit includes a photo album of her work.

I didn't mean to have two consecutive posts be memorials. The fact that I am struggling with the loss this week of the ninth extended family member in just over a year makes it particularly difficult for me to even process the facts I needed to organize so that this post is cogent. In spite of that, I feel it is imperative to raise to the heavens the praise Shereen deserves and celebrate what she has meant to all of us in the basketry field.




Her mark is everywhere in the circle of American basketmaking. There isn't a guild library listing without one of her many books in their collection. You can rarely find the resume of any active American basketmaker without a reference to their having studied with Shereen or having had their work published by her in the News Basket, Basketry Roundup or one of her numerous basketry books or other publications. It would be easier to make a list of prominent present-date American basketmakers who were not given a leg up by Shereen, than those she had promoted. She introduced many of us to one another, helping to create a community of creative souls that may never have come together if it had not been for her.

Her husband David has relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico and from his web site it seems as if he is happily partaking of a new location and artistic direction in his life. I know Shereen is missed by David, her family and the many friends she left behind. I want them all to know that she is missed by many. She has not and will not be forgotten by the American basketry community. I am happy to have had her as my friend.





Please share your recollections of Shereen in the comments. Click the time stamp to open the comments window if it does not already appear to leave a comment or read comments left by others.



4 comments:

  1. Susi I'm so glad you made this post about Shereen, I had forgotten that she passed away on this date, although I knew it was about seven years ago. Although I never met her, I did communicate by phone and mail and was one of those that she promoted by being featured in two of her Round-up books. There was no one quite like Shereen and she is truly missed by many. She was a real power-house and an inspiration to us all.

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  2. I am so glad to see this here--Shereen influenced me more than any other basketmaker even though she died before I started weaving. What a phenomenal talent! I love her work.

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  3. i have Shereen's books and have spent many happy hours exploring her closed triaxial weaving or mad weave. Thankyou for this tribute of her.

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  4. Remembering with fondness a grand lady who had lasting impact on my life and great impact on the field of American Basketry. Rest in peace knowing you are always in my thoughts.

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