Elsie Holiday

Elsie Holiday
Basket Weaver, Dine' (Navajo)
Elsie started out as a weaver of Navajo rugs when she was in her teens. This is the most classic craft form for Dine` women to work at as artists. However, she then met her late husband in her late teens, and this brought her into a family of weavers that includes the world-renowned basket maker Mary Holiday Black. From that point on, Elsie left behind rug weaving and began making baskets. Today, she is often viewed as one of a very few great Navajo basket weavers and one of the best Native American basket makers anywhere.

Elsie uses traditional designs but also incorporates non-traditional motifs. These capture her imagination, due to pattern, color scheme, or form outline, and results in beautiful and vibrant contemporary works. She uses sumac, a desert willow, for weaving, which she and her family collect and process in the spring and late fall.   Her works demonstrate exceptionally uniform, tight weavings and a traditional, deep connection to the art and function of her baskets.

Elsie lives on Douglas Mesa, just a few miles north of Monument Valley, made famous to the outside world by the Hollywood western film genre. This region is the epicenter for Navajo basket makers.  

Elsie is a private, shy and soft spoken woman, with children of her own, one of whom is now an accomplished weaver in her own right. The traditional Navajo ways are strong in this area, at the Utah-Arizona State Line, and Elsie Holiday is definitely one of the reasons that it remains rich as a place of the Dine` People.