This birchbark container, "Golden Eagle / Landlocked Salmon" took 2nd place at the Heard Museum's Invitational only in Phoenix in 2011 - Ribbon comes w/basket
August 2011 - Otter wins 2nd place ribbon in basketry @ SWIA - Santa Fe Indian Market - Most prestigious Native American art show
OTTER took 2nd place at the Heard Museum's Invitational only in Phoenix 2011! Over 700 invited participants, Otter took a 2nd place. 2nd place @ both the Heard and Santa Fe in one year!
This basket had been on exhibit and has been recently returned. See a digital recreation of the Hudson Museum/Maine Indian Basketmaker's exhibit "Transcending Traditions" by searching for "transcending traditions". On the Transcending Traditions page you can click on "eric Otter bacon" at the top of the page... and see further examples of his work that were in this exhibit
Otter, Passamaquoddy basketmaker and artist can seamlessly combine the best of traditional craft with a completely contemporary flair. This spectacular etched birchbark box is a perfect example. Here Otter mixes a very traditional craft, etched birchbark, in a very traditional square bottom to round top shape and adds adds such unique style to the etched pictures that it becomes very contemporary. This is a traditional birch bark container shape called a "mukuk" This birchbark container is 8" square on bottom and 6.5" in diameter at the top. It is 8" high to the top of the lid and the carved bentwood handle adds 1.25" to the overall height making it 9.25" There are carved wooden pieces overlaying the side seams - these are bound with spruce root as is the carved wood on the exterior of the top rim as well as the lid. There is a split twig on the exterior of the lid rim and on the interior of the container. The split twig is very traditional old way to finish the rim of a Passamaquoddy birchbark container - The design, of a golden eagle head and wing on one side of the container and a landlocked salmon on the other, is Otter's own. The salmon curves around with it's tail and most of it's torso on the side and it's head on the bottom of the container. The head of the eagle is replicated on the interior of the lid. The top of the container has a more traditional Passamaquoddy motif, double curves. But the style of those curves is Otter's own - showing 3 variations all not quite traditional - on each 1/2 of the lid. You can see the double curve again in the eagle's wing feathers. Birchbark etching was almost a lost art among Maine's Native Americans. But recently a few highly skilled artists have begun working in this difficult medium. The very thin exterior bark is delicately and painstakingly scraped away to expose the lighter under layer of bark. This must be done on the interior of "winter" bark, which is thicker and darker than the near white exterior of the birch's bark in the summer. (exterior of bark is on inside of container) The style of the art is pure Otter... evocative of Aztec and NW coast art - while incorporating Passamaquoddy symbols. The technique and craftmanship are superb as you would expect in a piece honored at the Heard and by an artist honored both at the Heard, Santa Fe Indian Market, the Hudson, Abbe, and Fuller Museums and by the National Basketry Organization. Prior to 1868 landlocked salmon occurred only in 4 river basins in Maine - 2 of those are very close to Otter's home in Washington County, Grand Lake and the St. Croix. Today the landlocked salmon is stocked in 176 lakes and are present in 144 rivers and streams. While the salmon are becoming more common, the golden eagle has now been designated Maine's rarest breeding bird with only 1 pair known to be nesting. Historically the golden eagle was a rather common bird here with it's majestic 6 foot wingspan and impressive flight.
With this piece, you will receive the Heard 2nd place ribbon (shown in photo in slideshow - Otter with container and ribbon) and copies of recent articles and information about Otter