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EDENSHAW, Isabella

Born
Klukwan Village, Alaska, 1842
Died
, 1926
Biography synopsis
Isabella Edenshaw (K'woiyeng/Yahgujanaas/S'itkwuns) was a First Nations basket maker of the Haida clan who resided in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. A member of the Yakulanas (Raven) lineage, some sources state she was born in 1842, while many others declare her birth year to be 1858. She was wed to painter and sculptor Charles Edenshaw (1839-1920) in a pre-arranged marriage (c. 1873) and together they had eleven children. In her artistic practice, Edenshaw would often weave baskets and hats, which her husband Charles Edenshaw would later paint. Many of these collaborative works were later attributed solely to Charles. To create her baskets, Edenshaw collected spruce roots, soaked them and wove them together. Edenshaw wove baskets and hats all winter, after which she and her family traveled throughout the Northwest Coast selling them and accepting new commissions along the way. The noted art collector Charles F. Newcombe gathered many of the Edenshaws' works. In 2006, Edenshaw's works were exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery in a group exhibition titled "Raven Travelling: Two Centuries of Haida Art". The 2010 exhibition "Signed Without Signature" at the Museum of Anthropology in British Columbia will feature Charles and Isabella Edenshaw's basketry and jewelry. Edenshaw's baskets and hats are in the collections of the McCord Museum in Montreal, the National Gallery of Canada and the Museum of Anthropology in British Columbia. Her daughter was the famous artist Florence Edenshaw Davidson (1896-1993). Edenshaw's great-granddaughter, Isabel Rorick (b. 1955), is a contemporary basket weaver.
Media used
Basket making
Textiles
File & Archive locations
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Writings about
"An Aboriginal Presence: Isabella Edenshaw (1858-1926)." Canadian Museum of Civilization 2010
http://www.civilization.ca/cmc/exhibitions/aborig/fp/fpz2a18e.shtml.
"Isabella Edenshaw." Haida Culture: Haida Weaving: The Women 2000
http://agora.virtualmuseum.ca/edu/ViewLoitDa.do;jsessionid=23E656BB84A0D9946C2AA74A34B3524C?method=preview&lang=EN&id=9852.
Blackman, Margaret B. During My Time: Florence Edenshaw Davidson, a Haida Woman. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1992.
Busby, Sharon. Spruce Root Basketry of the Haida and Tlingit. Seattle: Marquand Books, 2003.
Chalker, Kari et al. Totems to Turquoise: Native North American Jewelry Arts of the Northwest and Southwest. Harry N. Abrams, 2004.
Drew, Leslie & Wilson, Douglas. Argillite, Art of the Haida. Hancock House, 1980.
Howard, Patricia L. Women & Plants: Gender Relations in Biodiversity Management and Conservation. London, England: Zed Books, 2003.
Laforet, A. Isabella Edenshaw's Basketry. Ottawa: National Museum of Man, 1985.
MacDonald, George F. Haida Art. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996.
MacDonald, George F. L'Art haïda. Hull, Québec: Musée canadien des civilisations, 1996.
Malinowski, Sharon & Abrams, George H. Notable Native Americans. Gale Research, 1995.
Mowat, Linda et al. Basketmakers: Meaning and Form in Native American Baskets. Oxford: Pitt Rivers Museum, 1992.
Newell, Dianne. Tangled Webs of History: Indians and the Law in Canada's Pacific Coast Fisheries. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993.
Porter, Frank W. ed. The Art of Native American Basketry: A Living Legacy. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990.
Ransom, Kelly Marie. Art as Negotiation: The Reciprocal Construction of Meanings in the Argillite Carvings of Charles Edenshaw. Vancouver: University of British Columbia, 1993.
Rawlings, Irene. "Changing Faces." Art and Antiques 21.2 (Feb. 1998): 62-69.
Seattle Art Museum. The Spirit Within. Seattle: Rizzoli, 1995.
Steltzer, Ulli. A Haida Potlatch. Douglas & McIntyre, 1984.
Thom, Ian M. Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2009.
Turner, Nancy J. & Davidson, Florence Edenshaw et al. Plants of Haida Gwaii: Xaadaa Gwaay gud gina k'aws (Skidegate) - Xaadaa Gwaayee guu gin k'awa (Masset). Winlaw, British Columbia: Sono Nis Press, 2004.
Vancouver Art Gallery. Raven Travelling: Two Centuries of Haida Art. Vancouver: 2006.
Whiting, Faith. What a Basket Holds. Langley Museum, 2002.
Williams, Lucy Fowler. Guide to the Ethnographic Collections at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2003.
Williams, Lucy Fowler et al. Native American Voices on Identity, Art, and Culture: Objects of Everlasting Esteem. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2005.

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