Sue Coleman

Performing At

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Artist Residence: Italy, August, 2024

Sue Coleman is a member of the Washo nation. Her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmothers were all basketmakers. Sue learned basket weaving from her mother, Theresa Smokey Jackson, in the late 1980s. Together they gathered willow, which they stripped, cleaned and made into thread. Her first basket was the bicoos, Washo for cradleboard. Over the years, she has challenged herself with round baskets, burden baskets, seed beaters and winnowing trays, but cradleboards are still her favorite.

Sue is inspired by her ancestors, such as her great-great grandmother, Sara Mayo, known for her famous “territorial” basket. “Baskets are important to the native people,” Coleman explains. “Traditionally, baskets were used to gather, prepare, cook, and store native foods, for rearing children, for gift giving and ceremonies. Weaving almost died in our tribe and even now, there are only a handful of weavers left. I am continuing my mother’s dream and now mine, to keep the baskets alive.”

Sue Coleman has won many awards at shows including the Great Basin Native Basketweavers Association, the Washeshu Ideh Festival and won the Governor's Award for her work. Sue was selected as 100 weavers in the US and Canada to showcase her work for a weaving exhibition at the Smithsonian.

Sue is inspired by her ancestors, she's proud to be doing what her people did 1000 years ago. Ceremonial and functional baskets were extremely important to the Washo. "I'm full Washo and I am carrying on with my mother's work, I feel I am honoring my mother with my basket weaving."

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