Dona Look White Birch Bark Baskets

Dona Look
10dl #10-1, white birch bark and waxed silk thread, sewn with wrapped edge
12.6” x 10” x 10”, 2010
10dl #13-2, woven white birch bark, sewn and wrapped with waxed silk thread
13.75” x 8.5” x 8.5”, 2013
9dl #15-2, white birch bark and waxed silk thread sewn exterior, woven interior and wrapped edge
11.75” x 11.75” x 11.75”, 2015.
Photo by Tom Grotta

Each week of the year at, we draw attention to a work, a book or a project by one of the artists we represent. Beginning this December, we’ll be providing a monthly round up of these works here on This month on we featured four very disparate works. First, baskets of white birch by Dona Look, who harvests the bark herself in Wisconsin where she lives. “Look carefully selects bark from large, healthy trees that will soon be logged—evaluating the diameter of each tree and the bark’s thickness, for its unique markings and flexibility,” explains Jane Milosch in “The Entanglement of Nature and Man,” Green from the Get Go: Contemporary International Basketmakers (browngrotta arts, Wilton, CT 2016). “Collecting and preparing the bark is painstaking and must be done in the spring when the sap is running. Unfortunately, her work has become increasingly difficult of late as not all of the trees are in a natural cycle, and some are dying due to climate change, such as white birch trees, once prevalent in northern Wisconsin forests.” The simple geometric patterns of some of her works, writes Milosch, “recall the patterns of Native American parfleche pouches, which were a kind of geographical depictions of the surrounding land, at the same time her basket preserves the radiant splendor of birch.”

steel weaving by Kyoko Kumai

31kk Kyoko Kumai, Sen Man Na Yu Ta, stainless steel filaments, 44″ x 38″ x 7.75″, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta

A strikingly different sensibility is evident in Sen Man Na Yu Ta, Kyoko Kumai’s wall sculpture of stainless steel. The steel filaments, mass-produced in a factory, are inorganic and monotonous by themselves, but when they are woven, twisted or bundled together they take on an organic appearance that serves to express various aspects of wind, air and light.

Glass and paper boat

32jb Glass Boat, Jane Balsgaard, plantpaper, twigs and glass, 14″ x 13″ x 1.5″ 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta

Our third choice, Jane Balsgaard’s Glass Boat, deftly blends a sail of lightly processed handmade paper and a hull of glossy glass. Finally, in Process Piece, Ed Rossbach takes on construction, deconstruction and reconstruction in one work. First, he printed an image onto fabric, then he unraveled the fabric and finally re-constructed it into a new version. “I thought he was crazy,” his wife, artist Katherine Westphal told us.
The four works create a fine sentiment for 2017: Seek the splendid, airy, shiny and light; be willing to re-envision and remake.

Ed Rossbach Weaving

159r Process Piece, Ed Rossbach, 15″ x 15″ x 2.5″, 1981. Photo by Tom Grotta