Joanne Segal Brandford was born in Philadelphia in 1933. She received her BA in decorative art in 1955 and her MA in design in 1967 from UC Berkeley, with Ed Rossbach. Brandford taught at UC Berkeley, Rhode Island School of Design, Montclair State College (NJ), Wheelock College, Mass College of Art, and the Radcliffe Seminars in the Boston area, bringing the educational philosophy of the UC Design Department to the East coast.
Her work as artist, scholar, teacher, and curator was fueled by her interest and expertise in ethnic textiles, especially those of North, Central, and Andean America. Her widely exhibited innovative nets and sculptural forms were made by interlacing, knotting, and twining of primarily natural materials, sometimes dyed. Her mastery of handling materials in such a variety of ways was driven by the research and curatorial work she undertook. Her art is deeply rooted in the study of ancient and ethnographic textiles.
Her awards included a New York State Artists Grant, Basket Maker-in-Residence at Manchester Polytechnic in England, Fellow at the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College, and Research Fellow in Textile Art at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard. In 1984, Brandford curated a traveling exhibition of North American baskets from the Peabody Museum entitled “...from the tree where the bark grows;” she curated “The North American Basket 1790-1976” at the Worcester Craft Center in Massachusetts, and “Our Shining Heritage, Textile Arts of the Slavs and Their Neighbors,” at the Roberson Center for the Arts and Sciences in Binghamton, New York.
Brandford was Research Historian for the exhibition and catalog for “Knots and Nets” as well as a featured artist. She catalogued the Native American basket collection at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford. She had thirteen solo exhibitions, including the San Francisco Craft and Folk Art Museum, four shows at Amos Eno Gallery in New York, a retrospective at 171 Cedar Arts Center in Corning, New York, and a solo at the Cornerhouse Gallery in Manchester, England. A few traveling exhibitions of note: Baskets: Redefining Volume and Meaning, Knots and Nets, The Art Fabric: Main Stream, and The Dyer’s Art: Ikat, Batik, Plangi. Her work appeared in the books of the same titles and in numerous other books and catalogues.
Joanne Segal Brandford died in the spring of 1994.
See also "Joanne Segal Brandford", by Barbara B. Goldberg, Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings, Paper 450, 2004; and Catherine K. Hunter's article in the winter 2012 issue of the National Basketry Organization's journal, NBO Quarterly Review, pp. 14-16.
Untitled Net, 1987, nylon and polyester, 6′ x 11′ x 6 ½′.
Icarus' Wing, 1991, rattan, pandanus, and steel, 10 ½″ x 30 ½″ x 19″. (Photo by Andrew Gillis)
Blue Bowl, 1987, sprang: rattan, dye, 5 ¾″ x 10″ x 9 ¼″.
Shelter, 1993, rattan, kozo, dye, paint, 9 ½″ x 24″ x 25″.
Reclining Figure, 1992, rattan, 21″ x 60″ x 32″. (Photo by Andrew Gillis)
Half, 1986, nylon, cotton.
Scaffold, 1982, silk, 9 ½″ x 13″.