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Phenomenology, Pomo Baskets, and the Work of Mabel McKay

This article characterizes the work of Native basket weaver Mabel McKay, using some of the conceptual tools of twentiethth-century phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Specifically, McKay's baskets have often been described as "living;" Merleau-Ponty's account of the world as "living flesh" seems to suggest a way of thinking about these baskets as more than mere artifacts. I conclude that McKay's baskets are a powerful propaedeutic: they awaken a sense of ourselves as perceivers.