Roosevelt Bassett: From Lath to Handbag

July 15, 2011 - January 29, 2012 

 

In the late 1960’s, Roosevelt Bassett and his family moved from their farm in South Carolina to the City of Philadelphia. As a boy, he learned to make things. His parents told him “always try to make something and then you can find your way.”  And he did. Today, Bassett is a self-taught artist who creates handmade purses, hats, even birdhouses from discarded wood lath. He finds his material throughout the streets of Philadelphia and combines the cut wood into small houses that function as one-of-a-kind handbags or boater hats made of wood.

The cut lath, with its inherent light and dark tones, creates simple geometric patterns that define each object. And often, Bassett incorporates humor into his work as sometimes the purses have been crafted to resemble a house or human face – one bag even wears eyeglasses. 

Tony Chotkoski, a friend of Roosevelt Bassett, wrote, “And make he does, things that are now fanciful fruit of old wood. Wood which had served a standard purpose, but now Roosevelt’s eye has fallen upon it and lo, he doth maketh things with a new purpose, crafting the wood anew into splendid decorative purposes…be it a wreath, a picture frame, or a purse. Ah, for these purses he takes the old lath, the former backbone of plaster, and cuts and slices it with his unique perspective to create these geometric figures that pattern light and dark in a sincere simplicity. Something unique to carry.

http://www.stanford-creative.com/roosevelt.html