A true artist and craftswoman, Henrietta Snype is a master sweetgrass basket weaver and educator. She is devoted to the education and revival of a culture rich in tradition. Born and raised in Mount Pleasant, S.C., she learned how to weave baskets at the age of seven from her mother, Mary Mazyck, and grandmother. At the age of 17, Snype graduated from high school and went on to pursue her education and career in business.
After realizing the importance and beauty of her family’s heritage in the early 1980s, Snype began working in schools, teaching the precious art form. Today, Snype continues to travel around the world teaching in schools and universities while delivering demonstrations and workshops. Many view the traditions of sweetgrass basket weaving to be secretive and closed, that the art form belongs to the individual Gullah community. Snype, however, strongly believes otherwise, having said, “I have to take this on a different journey, not just because I want to make a dollar here or there, I want to be able to preserve this…And if we don’t teach it to our children – because I consider myself in the middle generation – then there is not another generation.” Snype sees her work as paying homage to the strength and resilience of the Gullah people as well as her African ancestors.
Snype’s skill is universally recognized. Her work has been featured at countless museums across the U.S. including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art. She is a community advocate for sweetgrass basket makers and is one of the founding members of the Sweetgrass Basket Makers Association. Snype has also passed this art form down to her children and grandchildren who are now the family’s fifth generation of basket makers.