Mary Jackson (b. 1945) is a basket maker who lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, Stoney. She makes sweetgrass baskets that come out of a tradition that has been passed down to her from her ancestors. It originated in West Africa, and then was brought to America by slaves.
This kind of basket making is an identifying cultural practice for people who were cut off from their own history, and has been a part of Charleston and Mt. Pleasant communities for more than 300 years. Jackson uses sweetgrass, palmetto, pine needles, and bulrush in her work, which is innovative, but always mindful of its past. Her baskets are represented in many collections including the American Craft Museum, White House Collection of Arts and Crafts, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and Museum of African American History, Detroit.
Mary Jackson is featured in the Memory episode of Craft in America.
Mary Jackson, Cobra with Handle, 2007, Jack Alterman photograph
Mary Jackson explains how rice is separated from the chaff using a Fanner basket, and shows her Unfinished Basket.