Beatrice Herman

Beatrice Herman is a Yup’ik Eskimo artist born in 1947 in the village of Hooper Bay, Alaska. Hooper Bay is located in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, a broad marshy plain that produces grasses that are exceptionally well suited to making the coiled grass baskets for which the village is famous. Central Yup’ik coiled baskets are described as “sewn” rather than woven because the method of production involves sewing each coil to the preceding and following revolutions. The result is neat and precise and can easily incorporate geometric patterns of seal gut or dyed grass into each coil.

Beatrice creates superbly sewn beach rye grass baskets, earrings, and wonderful grass dolls. She started sewing beach rye grass when she was 9 years old, making grass mats, learning the techniques of gathering and sewing from her mother Agnes Lake (nee O'Brien). She became a serious basket maker in her thirties, striving to make her stitches finer and finer.

Beatrice uses commercial and natural dyes and materials from subsistence activities to embellish her artwork. Some of her natural dyes are created from onionskins (golden color) and berries (purplish color). She collects her own grass from Hooper Bay or her sisters help her out if she is not able to travel back home. She has discovered over the years that Hooper Bay grass is more pliable, thinner, stronger and easier to soak and work with while sewing her dolls and baskets.

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