Perry Null Trading:

How old were you the first time you made a basket?

Tressa Curtis:

I was 12 years old when I made my first basket. It was a small traditional Navajo wedding basket and I sold it for $50.

Perry Null Trading:

Who taught you?

Tressa Curtis:

My mother would teach me when I wasn’t in school.

Perry Null Trading:

Where are you from?

Tressa Curtis:

I grew up in Shonto, AZ.

Perry Null Trading:

That is very remote, did you go to school in Shonto?

Tressa Curtis:

I went to the boarding school there until high school. I finished school in Page.

Perry Null Trading:

Did you attend boarding school in Page?

Tressa Curtis:

No, it was Page Unified School District, public school.

Perry Null Trading:

That had to be a haul everyday?

Tressa Curtis:

It took 35 minutes from my house to the bus stop. So my mom would drive me each morning to the stop, and then I would get on the bus around 6 am. We would arrive at school around 7:40. It all started over again when school let out at 3:30.

Perry Null Trading:

Did you miss any school?

Tressa Curtis:

I had to make up some days.

Perry Null Trading:

When did you start making these large baskets?

Tressa Curtis:

My mother and I worked on a basket in 1993 together. That was my first big basket.

Perry Null Trading:

Where did you sell the piece?

Tressa Curtis:

We really didn’t know what to sell the basket for, it was the first one for both of us. It was sold to a Trading Post in Teec Nos Pos for $5200.

Perry Null Trading:

How many have you made since then?

Tressa Curtis:

Three large baskets on my own and one with my mother. This one took me over 4 months and is much bigger than the last one I brought here.

Perry Null Trading:

Where did you get the idea for the design?

Tressa Curtis:

My mother had pictures of very old Apache baskets and that is what I used for inspiration.

Perry Null Trading:

What do you make the basket from?

Tressa Curtis:

Everything is from sumac. I take full branches and tear them into three pieces. Each layer consist of 5 coil, one on the top and two on the bottom, creating a pyramid look. The dyes are natural, from clay and herbs.

Perry Null Trading:

Do you participate in art shows?

Tressa Curtis:

In 2003 I was invited to do a demonstration at the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe during the Indian Market. I had baskets around me that were finished and weaving one, people would see the baskets on the ground and understand what it was I was making.

Perry Null Trading:

Do you make baskets fulltime?

Tressa Curtis:

No, I am working on completing my nursing degree so I am busy with school.

Perry Null Trading:

Do you do it to relax?

Tressa Curtis:

(laughs) It is not relaxing, my back hurts, it makes me tired, and my fingers get really sore.

Perry Null Trading:

Thanks, we will put this basket in the Inter-Tribal Ceremonial.



Available art from: Curtis, Tressa