Click image to view Jim Bassler featured in a past episode of the PBS series, CRAFT IN AMERICA


A former UCLA professor of design and media arts and a practicing weaver, Jim Bassler has been a leading figure in fiber art for over 50 years. He is inspired by ethnic textiles, handweaving and hand dyeing; his work reflects a concern with the labor of the hand and the value of time spent with the materials. His investigations intensely examine what is possible within the medium, focusing on “four selvedge weaving,” a technique that Bassler learned when he was teaching a course at the Fowler Museum at UCLA, “Textiles of the World: The Americans.” In the process, he discovered how to create the intricate checkerboard patterns woven into Inca warrior tunics of the Sixteenth Century.

In the exhibition, Bassler’s Zoom displays the ancient technique used extensively in pre-Columbian Meso-America. AOS DNA is one of Bassler’s largest weavings, a commissioned piece for Advanced Orthopedic Solutions. The double helix motif featured in the weaving references life’s foundation discovered by science, and the color combinations are associated with the hardware of the orthopedic system.

In 2022, Jim Bassler was elected to the College of Fellows, American Craft Council, recognizing “his outstanding contribution to crafts in America.” His work will be featured in an upcoming 2023 exhibition at the Craft in America Center, Los Angeles. Bassler is also featured in a past episode of the PBS series, CRAFT IN AMERICA, accessed through the link HERE.

My father, Johnny Bassler, was brought up in a Mennonite community in Pennsylvania.  He became a major league baseball player, a catcher, during the 20’s and 30’s.  But interestingly enough, he had other talents, including the hooking of rugs during the winter months.  In this way, I was introduced to the textile traditions at a very early age, and learned the joy and challenge associated with making things.  In 1950, as a senior at Santa Monica High School, the head counselor asked me what my college major might be.  I answered “Art”.  Her instant reaction was “No”, your GPA is too high.  After a very short discussion she decided “sociology”.  I entered UCLA, but the Korean Conflict interrupted my academic plans.  The Army sent me to Europe.  This was followed by a civilian job in England, dealing with Cold War strategies.

In London, age 27, it was intuition that led me to board a cargo ship headed for Hong Kong.  The journey, I hoped, would allow me to find a life different from the one I had  been told to live. From the beginning, I began to see paths as I witnessed the indigenous people in their essential role at solving problems and in defining cultures.  In Bombay, India, I was captivated seeing as they spun, wove and dyed cotton.  In Indonesia, wax was used to create pattern.  These rich experiences continued into China and later, Japan.  I wondered if the United States had anything as honest as this?

In 1960, I returned to California and entered UCLA as an Art major.  My early works reflected what I had witnessed in my travels.  For over 60 years I have been both a teacher and a studio artist, exhibiting my work in many places.  Although electronic technology has expanded the possibilities to create, for me, it has been the study of ethnic and historical textiles that has given me the greatest inspiration.  In the 1980’s, I discovered the wedge-weave structures used by the Navajo in the late 1880’s.  In the 1990’s I began to experiment with four-selvaged weaving technology used extensively in the pre-Columbian Andean Cultures.

Weaving takes a lot of time.  Sometimes the outcome is not nearly as interesting as the journey to get there.

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