Eiteljorg Musuem Blog

Meet the Fellows | Shan Goshorn (Part V of V)

by DeShong Perry-Smitherman, Eiteljorg public relations manager | Nov 06, 2013

Over the past five weeks the Eiteljorg blog has profiled artists who will be featured in RED: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. The exhibit opens Nov. 9. Details below!

What follows is an excerpt from Shan Goshorn: Leaning in to Shan Goshorn's Baskets, by heather ahtone (Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations of Oklahoma)
(from RED: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship exhibition catalog).

Shan Goshorn (Eastern Band of Cherokee)
Shan Goshorn

I strive to educate an audience about some of the unique issues that continue to impact Indian people. - Shan Goshorn

Since 2008, Shan Goshorn has become one of the most fearless weavers. Recognized nationally for her hand-painted photography and abstract paintings, Goshorn has always been a multi-media artist. By integrating her vision for photography and human rights activism into woven baskets, she has silently given voice to her culturally driven messages.

Goshorn lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and regularly travels home to North Carolina to connect with her extended family and her Eastern Band Cherokee community. As a full-time working artist, she credits working with the Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual cooperative for giving her a broad knowledge of traditional Cherokee crafts. While working there as a teenager in college, Goshorn contracted with the Indian Arts and Crafts Board to prepare book illustrations of traditional basket designs. This job required her to look closely at how baskets are woven together. It seeded within her the desire to try weaving, but she never attempted the medium unti 2008, when she conceived the idea that a basket could serve as a metaphor of complex concepts related to traditional Native identity and contemporary issues. Her first conceptual basket addressed sovereignty, a metaphor expressing the interwoven and convoluted relationships between tribes and states. She employed the Tobacco Compact between the State of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation printed on paper as the material. Titled Pieced Treaties; Spider’s Web Treaty Basket , her technical success confirmed to her that she had found a new vessel for conveying her complex ideas.
Pieced Treaties; Spider’s Web Treaty Basket, 2008. Arches watercolor paper splints, first printed with archival inks. Image courtesy National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution (266080.000). Photo by Ernest Amoroso.

(Above left) Removal (Ancestral Homeland) and (right) Removal (Indian Territory), 2012. Mixed media.

The aspect of the baskets that is perhaps most poignant, critical to their metaphorical currency, is found in the preparation process. Goshorn’s thoughtfully selected visual material, often a historic text document and a photographic image, must be prepared and scaled for printing in a final size that suits the intended form. It takes multiple prints of the primary source, each meticulously cut to an exact width and length in both vertical and horizontal strips, if not diagonal strips, from which Goshorn will then begin the weaving process.


shan goshorn
Unsolicited Gifts or How to Eliminate a Culture, 2012. Archival watercolor paper splints, first printed with archival inks.

 It is in the cutting, this physical deconstruction of history—both text and image, the slicing and dissecting—that the metaphor takes root. For many tribes, paper has been used as a weapon against their cultures, their sovereignty, and their identities. Goshorn takes the pieces she has broken down and reconstructs them into baskets. These forms, all built following traditions that reach farther back than federal history, speak to the continuum that lives within the cultures, the legacies that breathe in each new generation of Native artists, ready to be picked up and carried through the twenty-first century by the young people Goshorn is inspiring with her art.

Meet Shan Goshorn, Friday, Nov. 8 at the Eiteljorg.

Schedule for opening weekend of RED:Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship
5:30–7:30 p.m.
$40 – includes Saturday’s activities
To commemorate the opening of RED: the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, the museum will honor the five Native Fellowship winners with an intimate gathering that celebrates their artistic accomplishments.

7:30 p.m.–12 a.m.
Contemporary Arts Party
$15 at the door, $10 in advance – includes Saturday’s activities
Celebrate the opening of RED by partying all night to the sounds of A Tribe Called Red and DJ Kyle Long of the Cultural Cannibals. Additional entertainment will be provided by the comedy improve group the 1491s, Big Car, Know No Stranger, and more!
Tickets are available for purchase at


All Day
RED: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship
Be among the first to experience RED.
Opening Day a
ctivities include a gallery tour with the Fellows from 10 a.m.-12 p.m and from 1–3 p.m. a presentation by comedic cultural critics, the 1491s. Saturday's event is in collaboration with the 2013 Spirit & Place Festival. This festival reaches 20,000 people each year through dozens of “never before seen” programs that promote growth of the human spirit.

 Shan is one of five 2013 Fellows and her artwork will be featured in the exhibition RED: The Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, opening Nov. 9. This biennial program recognizes the accomplishments of one invited and four juried Fellows, which are chosen by a panel of independent experts. As part of the Fellowship, each artist receives a $25,000 unrestricted cash award and their work is exhibited and further explored in an accompanying catalog. In addition, the museum purchases a total of over $100,000 worth of art from the Fellows for the permanent collection, adding to a body of work that has given the Eiteljorg Museum a collection of Native contemporary art that has been referred to as the “greatest in the world.” - See more at:


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