OTA Contemporary is pleased to share the Baskets of Peace of Kristina Varjan. The history of pine needle baskets stretches back 9,000 years. They are functional and creative, even predating pottery. These 12 handmade pine needle baskets embody a spirit of calm and peace.
Kristina Varjan has created baskets that are anchored at their center by a rock or a mineral. Pieces of turquoise or agate are delightful surprises, while other baskets have found rocks or even a stone featuring a drawing of lizard. The bands of pine needles are bound with various shades of thread, some in rich hues of crimson, others in soft greens. Tiny beads accent many of the bands and one of the baskets features beautifully painted spheres from Africa.
These baskets are meant to be held in both hands. Most are round in shape, yet one of the most striking baskets is oval highlighted with silver beads. The beaded end of the basket brings to mind a rather elegant yawn. Another basket made earlier this year is stunningly adorned with mgambo seeds. Known commonly as Hawaiian pussywillows, these velvet pods are soft, but incredible strong. Cradling this basket is akin to a loving embrace. While these pine needle baskets are extremely beautiful, they—like the millions of pine needle baskets before them—are functional. Objects nestle safely within the walls of the woven vessels. Kristina Varjan’s pine needle baskets impart a peaceful presence that is undeniable.
The thread of creative self-expression can be traced through the life of Kristina Varjan. Born in New York City, a career in dance took her from New York across Europe. Kristina has worked with Native American musicians and dancers, as well as creative artists as far away as Africa. Eventually, she settled in Santa Fe in 1986. Now an accomplished and respected Aikido instructor, Kristina has practiced this non-competitive martial art for over forty years. She has expressed herself as a dancer, choreographer, costume designer, stage manager, and teacher. Kristina began making pine needle baskets four years ago and has created over one hundred baskets.