Premium Content

After Retiring, She Found a Talent for Basketry

Artist Elizabeth Runyon found herself with a lot more time to work on her creative endeavors after she retired from her job. She joined a basket-weaving class in Butler County and learned that she enjoyed the craft, but wanted to take the skills she learned there a step farther.  
Her new artistic path led her to create interesting basketry work that does not necessarily function as baskets but captivates the imagination was seen. Her work is currently showcased at Thomas More College's Eva G. Farris Gallery until June 19.
The exhibit is called "Twisted Tradition".
"It kind of plays on how I play on traditional Appalachian weaving, and it's kind of that with a twist," Runyon said of the exhibit.
"I use reed and sea grass which are traditional basketry materials. It's a natural plant that is raised in southeast Asia. It's weaving like a basket, only blown up. One of the pieces is seven-feet long, for example," Runyon said of her process. "They look like baskets because it's basketry material, but it plays with your expectations because usually a basket is useful in that it holds something and these don't really. They're more asking people to consider what is a basket, what can be a basket, and can you appreciate it for its beauty in addition to it's usefulness."
Her style is certainly unique and is one of the reasons it has garnered so much attention so quickly. 
"Basically I kind of like to make it my own. I haven't really seen other basketry people doing exactly what I do, which is kind of nice," she said. "Plus some of my pieces can be lit from the inside. In the gallery setting they don't really do that because it doesn't really show, but in a home setting, they look really cool when the light shines through the weaving. I have also made some lampshade kind of things which are a little bit more useful."
Not having to work full-time gave her the time to think more in creative and artistic terms. Her inspiration was molded when she envisioned her first piece as one that hangs from the ceiling, but as she was working on it, she quickly realized that the reed would curl and wrap in interesting ways and she decided to go with that style instead.  
"You kind of have to be open to new things, but you've got to have a good grounding in a technique. So it just kind of blew up from there," she said. "Initially I was kind of into abstract forms and then I went through more of a realist type phase with animal figures and then more recently I have been working on more vessel shapes. I've been getting into the curves of shapes and there always seems to be something new coming up."  
The Maysville native had some of her relatives come to the opening and said it was very special to see them.  She was also impressed with the Eva G. Ferris Gallery and Elizabeth Neal who is the gallery director.   
"The people at Thomas More have been just wonderful. The gallery is gorgeous and makes the work look awesome and people should stop by to see it for themselves," Runyon said. 
The next exhibit at Thomas More is titled "Transfigured" by artists Elizabeth Meas-Giado and Jennifer Reis.   
Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor