DCD’s Lowell Center was filled with Spruce roots soaking in water, arrowwood sticks, white pine bark and various hand tools while students learned one of the world’s oldest known crafts—basketmaking! Yesterday, second graders received a special visit from Jennifer Lee, an artist and educator of Northern Narragansett heritage and practice. All the natural materials used in the experience were wild-harvested by Jennifer’s family in the Northern Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.

With a knife, Jennifer split one end of an arrowood stick lengthwise down the center. Students were instructed to bend them little by little to create a more flexible rim piece or their baskets. The end goal was a bark pouch with a stick rim sewn on with spruce roots. Basketmaking is a time-and-labor-intensive process, but DCD second graders were up for the challenge!

“We’re going to get this! We’re not giving up!” Jennifer said to encourage students as they worked diligently through each step. This class was about more than the task of making a functional object. It was also about Native American culture, problem-solving, and use of upcycled materials. Just like in their other classes, these students took part in this challenging and creative experience while working independently and cooperatively with their classmates. We are so proud of the baskets they created today and of their growing independence in the DCD community!

Thank you Ms. Levi, Mrs. Senese and Mrs. Sinclair for assisting students throughout this meaningful art class. Learn more about Jennifer Lee and her work at this link: https://www.barkbasketsbyjlee.com.