Arlene Skinner has been weaving baskets for over 30 years. Her art of twined grass basket weaving uses wild beach grass collected from various coves around Kodiak island. She cures the grass naturally which highlight the colors and preserves the waxy look of the grass. Arleneis holding a blue spruce root hat. Few weavers in Kodiak area weave with spruce root. For Arlene it is a new weaving material. The gathering and preparing and handling of spruce root is very different than grass. In 2008 she got serious about weaving with spruce root and wove the hat that winter. The hat was accepted into the 2009 Earth, Fire and Fiber art show sponsored by the Anchorage Museum. Arlene learned to weave from Eunice Neseth in 1980. Eunice was the first curator of the Baranov museum and had Arlene assist her in teaching classes after Eunice saw the effort and skills in Arlene’s weaving. Arlene taught basket weaving for over 20 years at the Kodiak College beginning in 1985. She estimates teaching about 400 adults over that time. She also taught children at the Kodiak Summer Arts Council, Afognak summer camp and at the Baranov Museum.
Many of Arlene’s baskets or pieces of art have stories connected with them. Some of those stories are explained by Arlene in her vodcasts. Arlene is member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana. Arlene came to live in Kodiak, Alaska in 1960. She encouraged her 5 children to weave. Two children, Coral and Cleo, have become skilled weavers themselves. Arlene’s baskets have been purchased by the Baranov Museum- Kodiak, the Alutiiq Museum and Archeological Repository-Kodiak, Alaska Native Medical Center-Anchorage, Alaska State Museum of Juneau, and the Anchorage Museum of History and Art where they are displayed. She has a web site grassbasketart.com that lists the Exhibits and Collections where her work resides.