Art on the Land: Celeste Whitewolf’s baskets inspired by an urban wetland

Hart Wetlands, by Wetlands Conservancy

Three distinct works of art influenced by Hart Wetlands

By Celeste Whitewolf
Weaver and Commissioned Artist for Art on the Land

Artist Celeste Whitewolf

Water is Life. I wanted to be a part of this project so I could help the people of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs drink clean water. Raising funds for the Chuush project is a good thing. 

I was asked to go to an urban wetland to seek inspiration for an art piece. The Roger Hart Memorial Wetland was the source of my inspiration, and I made three baskets.


Abstract Hart Basket

Within the wetland were tree rings, ducks, weeping willows, leaves, algae-covered tree stumps, and small weirs. These were my inspiration. This is the first time I have made a paper twist basket that incorporates pictures. A complex design was created with graph paper and was my guide for the basket. Paper twist coil and yarn created the basket. It is intended to be a gathering basket.

Ancient Ones—Protectors of the Land Basket

This gourd basket recognizes that Indigenous people have been on this land for generations. The petroglyphs, while not on this particular wetland, were inspired by art made by the people of long ago and were inspired by petroglyphs found at the Columbia River Museum near Stevenson, WA.

This basket is a gourd with burned-in etchings, saffron grass, beads and black sinew. Four medallions represent all the pictures etched on the gourd.

Traditional Foods Basket

I was told that deer occupy Hart Wetlands. To acknowledge the presence of the deer and to recognize them as one the “traditional foods” of Indigenous people, I incorporated a deer antler as part of this basket.  

I struggled with it. The antler was heavy. Initially I thought it would be the handle, but I could not find its center of gravity. I tried to incorporate it into the basket and the weave just made it look messy. I checked my weaving notes and found a weave style that worked. I took the antler out and made the basket with the antler as the mounting stand.

Thank you for the opportunity to create these pieces for this wonderful project.  

About Celeste Whitewolf

Celeste Whitewolf has created things all her life. She began sewing on her mother’s Singer treadle machine, and I learned beading from her Cayuse maternal great-grandmother. After she retired from her 20-year career as a lawyer, she declared “I want to be a weaver.”

She did not know why she had such a drive to become a weaver until she traveled to her paternal grandmother’s Karuk tribal homeland for a weaving gathering, where she saw pictures of her grandmother’s elders sitting beside their glorious spruce root baskets.

Since then, she has taught numerous weaving and carving classes with the Grand Ronde Tribe, Northwest Indian College, Northwest Native American Basketweavers, and more. She has completed several artist residency programs with the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture and served as a visiting artist and researcher at the Bill Holms Center at Burke Museum. She resides in Tigard, OR.

About Art on the Land

Raffle tickets are on sale December 2-12, 2021

Art on the Land is part of a collaborative project with Greenbelt Land TrustWallowa Land TrustWetlands Conservancy, and Wild Rivers Land Trust. Throughout October and November, artists visited a property in their area that is currently protected and preserved by a local land trust, drawing inspiration from the landscape to create a unique, commissioned piece of art. Learn more.

Buy your raffle tickets for a chance to win a one-of-a-kind work of art—including Celeste’s baskets—created by local Oregon artists and inspired by land currently protected by Oregon land trusts. Tickets are $20 each, and 100% of the proceeds go to the Chúush Fund to support the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs as they work to restore their access and infrastructure for clean water.

Raffle winners will be selected December 15 and notified by December 17.

Category: ,
Kelsey Kuhnhausen

Kelsey Kuhnhausen

Kelsey is COLT's Communications Manager.

Browse by Category


Browse the Latest News