First American Art Magazine No. 21, Winter 2018/19 - Page 48

PROFILE CHUMASH BASKET MAKER LINDA AGUILAR By Gloria Bell L INDA AGUILAR is a basket weaver and textile artist. She has received numerous awards and recognitions and has completed fellowships at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) and the School for Advanced Research (SAR). Her baskets are found in art institutions across the Unites States including the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, the Indian Arts Research Center at SAR, the Autry Museum of the American West, and the Stagecoach Inn Museum. I first met Linda Aguilar at SAR in Santa Fe, when I visited her at her studio. We shared laughs and ideas, and it was my privilege to speak with her again about her current projects and future directions. Linda Aguilar is a visionary with a penchant for color and detail, much like her works. GB: How did you come to basket making? LA: I have a degree in studio arts from the University of California at Santa Barbara. [During my time in college], I took a soft-sculpture class and got the idea to make a potted palm tree out of soft, clear plastic. I made the pot at the base out of clear plastic tubes stuffed with pine needles and coiled together like a basket. Amazingly, I did not realize I was instinctively making a coiled basket at the bottom of the palm tree! I made a couple other soft sculp- tures with clear plastic tubing stuffed with horsehair or pine needles.… I stopped painting and started making baskets. I think it was a destiny thing. It was something that was there. I remember one day—Mother’s Day—I went on a picnic with my family at a community park. I needed to get pine needles to stuff in the tubes for the sculpture I was making. I had taken the large clear tubes with me and was there picking up the pine needles and stuffing them into the tubes. Pretty soon there were a number of people standing around me, watching. I instinctively started clowning, really clowning and throwing handfuls of pine needles in the air and goofing off and continued stuffing the tube. No one asked what I was doing. I kept on doing it. My mother was laughing in the distance. A little kid finally asked me what I was doing and came up close and asked me again. I told them. No one dared to ask until the little child. 46 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM The power of the arts? It was funny, little vignettes like that. Funny thing, too, people didn’t ask about the horsehair flying in the wind at my studio at Santa Fe. I hung a clothesline at the front of the studio to dry horse- hair after washing it. People would walk past the horsehair waving in the wind, looking, with odd expressions on their faces. [We laughed together at that memory.] What inspires you as an artist? I think color does, and the way I feel. I go for a lot of walks; I look at plants. I have a big garden and spend most of my summers out there. Things that I see in nature [inspire me]. That’s why I’m starting to go in a different direc- tion and going into crazy quilts and art quilts. I started making a large quilt; I