Shan Goshorn, Whose Cherokee Art Was Political, Dies at 61

Shan Goshorn, “Pieced Treaty: Spider’s Web Treaty basket,” 2007. Ernest Amoroso/National Museum of the American Indian

Shan Goshorn, an acclaimed Cherokee multimedia artist who incorporated political activism into her work, died on Dec. 1 in Tulsa, Okla. She was 61.

Her sister Donna Beck said the cause was a rare form of cancer.

Ms. Goshorn ranged across various media in her work, including paint, glass, metal and fiber as well as hand-tinted photography.

“I consider myself an artist who chooses the medium that best expresses a statement, usually one that addresses human rights issues, especially those that affect native people,” she wrote on her website.

Ms. Goshorn was most known for her imaginative basket-weaving. She often integrated photographs into her basketry, in some instances obtained by crowd-sourcing: Native Americans around the country would contribute images.

Other baskets might incorporate strips of paper or plastic with text printed onto them from treaties and compacts with the federal government, or from historic maps or speeches. Some baskets took creative shapes — a briefcase, for example, or an open flame.

Shan Goshorn, “Self Portrait in Artist Studio,” 1996.

Ms. Goshorn’s work is among the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, the Denver Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, N.M., the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, N.C., and the North American Native Museum in Zurich. In 2013 she was honored with a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship.

She also won acclaim year after year at the Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico, an annual event organized by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the country.

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