All Creatures Great & Small

By Jackson, Devon | Southwest Art, December 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

All Creatures Great & Small

Jackson, Devon, Southwest Art

THERE'S SOMETHING BOTH MEDIEVAL AND MODERN-DAY, antiquated yet bright, about Carol Eckert's artworks. The age-old part of it has to do with the ancient arts of basketry and tapestry, vocations dating back millennia and spawning continents and civilizations. The contemporary part comes from the vivid colors of her cotton embroidery thread, the three-dimensional airiness of her soft sculptures, and the cheerful joie de vivre of her birds and animals.

Although reminiscent of the baskets of the Papago of southern Arizona (also known as the Tohono O'odham) and the unicorn tapestries at the Cloisters (housing the Metropolitan Museum of Art's medieval European collection in Manhattan), and indebted too to the animal motifs popular in the early 20th-century Arts and Crafts movement, Eckert's carefully coiled menageries exude a lightheartedness that's all her own. An almost childlike lightheartedness that's reflective of the fables, myths, parables, and other tales Eckert so dearly loves.

"I've always loved mythology and animals, and I'm a very big reader," says Eckert from her home in Phoenix, AZ, where she's lived almost her entire adult life. "The narrative quality of my work comes from that, from a love of fables and mythology and art history."

Her works, though, aren't so much morality tales or lessons on how to live as they are celebrations of the roles that animals have in the lives of humans. Her three-tiered ABRAHAM'S SACRIFICE, for instance, barely hints at the impending sacrifice intended for the centrally located rams. Instead, the piece offers up the feeling of creaturely cohabitation. Similarly, there's nothing morbid about SOUL FLIGHT (whereupon birds and animals perch symmetrically around and atop a sort of Jewish Sephiroth tree, reminiscent of that in the Kabbalah) or intimidating about CELTIC SCEPTOR (where the intertwined snakes typical of this druidic motif are of such a rich lavender that they look almost edible).

Born and raised in North Carolina, Eckert received a bachelor of science degree with high distinction in painting from Arizona State University in 1967. An abstract painter back then, she got a job teaching painting and drawing at a community art center. But she was much more interested in what her peers were up to in the center's adjoining rooms-the fiber arts and ceramics studios.

Gradually, she moved from the abstract to the tangible-from painting to clay. She even built herself a kiln in her back yard. As satisfying as that work was, however, she ultimately decided to move on. "I'd gotten into clay because I was interested in the three-dimensional forms," explains Eckert. "But I wasn't thrilled with it technically."

In about 1981, while teaching at a children's art center, Eckert came across an article about basketry. "I thought it would be good for the kids to learn," she recalls, "and then 7 got into it." Soon, very soon, she'd immersed herself in it. Or, more accurately, she'd discovered herself and her true artistic calling. "It wasn't until I accidentally stumbled into basketry that I found a direction that was right for me," admits Eckert. "It came as real simple, and very quickly, it just felt right. I discovered I had this ability with coiled basketry."

STARTING OUT SMALL AND FOCUSING on vessel-based pieces, Eckert soon made an even more momentous discovery: She found an old photograph of a Yoruba headdress. "It was this incredible beaded thing," she remembers. "The image of that piece made me think of animals as something to use. So I started with one bird. Then I expanded from there."

Eventually, her pieces became larger and more complex, and more satisfying. "Coiling combined the two areas I'd been working in but hadn't found much satisfaction from," says Eckert, who'd already embroidered and quilted as a girl ("I did all that campfire girl group stuff," she confesses, "so I felt comfortable with all of it") and knitted as an adult. "It had a very similar process to tapestry and weaving, and it had elements of day and ceramics to it, too. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

All Creatures Great & Small


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.