Full Name: Bessie Johnson
City: West Point
Date Joined: 1977
Member Classification: Fellow since 1986
Artist Categories: Baskets.
Bessie’s baskets have been praised for their remarkable symmetry, beauty and innovative style. Her achievements as a craftsman and designer of basketry as brought her increasing distinction and prominence. For many years, Bessie has woven a rich heritage with a contemporary artistic vision to create her own unique art form using pine needles, gourds, corn shucks, china berries and black walnuts. Her use of china berries gained national attention when she was asked to design and make the ornaments for the 1994 Mississippi Christmas tree in the circle of state trees surrounding the taller United States tree displayed at the White House. Bessie considers her basketry to be artistic like to her forefathers, as much as her family’s legacy as any genetic inheritance.