Bessie Johnson

Basketmaker, West Point

Bessie Johnson is a native of the Tibbee community just south of West Point. Both of her parents were active in traditional crafts. Her father wove chair bottoms and baskets and her mother quilted. Johnson was fascinated with their work and began making baskets herself over thirty years ago. She creates them using a variety of natural materials found around her home and in her community, including pine straw, corn shucks, gourds, walnuts, and chinaberries. While there are others in Mississippi who make baskets using pine straw and corn shucks, Johnson has created her own unique designs, bringing innovation and creativity to the traditional forms.

Johnson has been very active teaching and presenting her work. She has taught countless classes and workshops and basketmaking over the years. She has also served as a master artist in the Arts Commission’s Folk Art Apprenticeship Program. Johnson is a member of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi and displays her work at festivals throughout the region. She was a recipient of a Folk Art Fellowship from the Arts Commission in 1999.

Additional Information at: Bessie Johnson’s website.

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