Harvey Meyer | Agaseke

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Harvey Meyer | Agaseke
Harvey Meyer, Dunwoody, Georgia

Agaseke, 2020
Alder wood, India ink
6 x 8.5 x 8.5 inches | 15.24 x 21.59 x 21.59 cm

For centuries, “agaseke” – traditional Rwandan baskets have been an essential part of Rwandan culture – woven into the fabric of everyday life as vessels for food and grains, household catchalls, and gifts for important ceremonies, like weddings and christenings.

Historically, weaving was passed down from mother to daughter, generation to generation, as a rite of passage marking the transition into womanhood and symbolizing a mother’s care for her children and her country. However, after the 1994 genocide, this age-old tradition took on a new and powerful meaning in Rwanda.

When the genocide in Rwanda ended, women were left to pick up the pieces of their shattered country. In order to provide for themselves, their families, and the countless orphans left in the destruction’s wake, many banded together to form artisan cooperatives—overcoming past differences to work together towards a brighter future.

These determined women decided to use traditional "agaseke" baskets as a symbol of Rwanda’s newfound peace, and the baskets’ iconic zigzag patterns came to represent the image of two women holding hands—embracing reconciliation, unity, and hope for the future of Rwanda.

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, and now residing in the Atlanta, GA area, I'm retired from a 43+ year career as a telecommunications engineer. I've been a woodworker for most of my life. After building furniture for many years, I started woodturning in 2000. Most of the wood I turn is from the Atlanta area. This wood generally comes from trees downed in storms or from tree removals and would otherwise be headed to landfills or chippers. I also like to turn exotic woods and burls. No two pieces of wood are alike and it's not until I start turning a piece when the wood reveals its hidden beauty. I’ve turned many types of forms and objects including bowls, platters, hollow vessels, goblets, and boxes, etc., but my main focus is on hollow vessels. I also like to embellish my turnings by piercing, burning, coloring, carving, and texturing. Since 2012, I've been focused almost exclusively on the "basket illusion", where a turned piece attempts to resemble woven basketry. I enjoy demonstrating at woodturning clubs and symposia, as well as teaching. I work in my studio located in the basement of my home in Dunwoody, GA. I'm an active member of the Georgia Association of Woodturners, Atlanta Woodturners Guild, and the American Association of Woodturners.

harveymeyer.com @basket_illusionist