2023 is the "Year of the Rug!"
Don't Miss These Opportunities!
Shaped by the Loom, Weaving Worlds in the American Southwest
Bard Graduate Center Gallery
New York, NY and online!
February 17-July 9, 2023
On Friday, February 17, an exciting year for Navajo weaving kicked off in, of all places, New York City. In the early twentieth century, the American Museum of Natural History obtained the Navajo blanket collection of U.S. Hollister. They also have many more Navajo, Pueblo, and Hispanic weavings collected over the years.
These are some of the most magnificent and historically important examples of Navajo weaving. Sadly, they have primarily been in museum storage since the AMNH obtained them in 1910-1911.
That is all about to change. Almost five years ago, Dr. Hadley Jensen from Bard Graduate Center in New York became intrigued by the collection. As part of a postdoctoral fellowship with Bard Graduate Center and the American Museum of Natural History, she began researching and creating an exhibition of these weavings. She wanted to connect the past to the present by including examples of historical and contemporary works. This has been a collaborative process, including the work of photographer Rapheal Begay (Diné), digital artist & printmaker Darby Raymond-Overstreet (Diné), and several other artists. Photography featuring weaver Marie Begay (Diné) of the Burnham Chapter area was also provided by Bayfield, Colorado photographer Howard Rowe.
Jensen enlisted the expertise of award-winning fifth-generation textile artists Lynda Teller Pete and Barbara Teller Ornelas (Diné) as curatorial advisors to analyze the historical weavings and contribute to the interpretation of these items. Jeanne Brako, former curator at the Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, and Jack Townes, conservation preparator and mount-maker, were also a key part of the project. In addition, the exhibition features panoramic imagery of the Navajo Nation, created with a 360 camera, and a soundscape by composer and pianist Connor Chee (Diné), which was commissioned for Shaped by the Loom.
Unfortunately, the pandemic put the entire project on hold, but sometimes good things come from challenging circumstances.
With the support of Bard Graduate Center, Jensen took the project to a different level by deciding to create a digital exhibition. Instead of being able to show dozens of textiles, they will now be featuring hundreds. Instead of thousands of people in New York seeing the exhibition, it will be available to millions online. This groundbreaking project will be a model for museum exhibits for years to come! I am so excited about what this will do for the art of Navajo weaving!
The digital component of Shaped by the Loom will launch soon, and we will send that link in a newsletter! Keep an eye out! It will be hosted online permanently and free to access.
The Shaped by the Loom gallery exhibition in New York City opened on Friday, February 17, and runs through July 9, 2023.
In the fall of 2023, the exhibit will also travel to the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, NY.
Horizons: Weaving Between the Lines with Diné Textiles
Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
Santa Fe, NM
July 16, 2023-June 2024
When the original show in New York was first postponed, Dr. Jensen approached the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe about an exhibition of their Navajo textile collection, including over 1,200 Navajo weavings. Most of it has never been seen by the public!
Jensen is co-curating this exhibition with Rapheal Begay, with guidance from an Advisory Committee of Diné weavers, scholars, artists, and educators. The exhibit will showcase weaving, photography, digital prints, audio interviews, and other immersive media.
And it will be up during the Santa Fe Indian Market this year, which is exciting. Many people will be able to see these extraordinary weavings and works of art! As the date gets closer, we will be sending out additional information. A printed catalog for the Horizons exhibition will also be published by the Museum of New Mexico Press (expected 2024).
Monumental Textiles & Miniature Masterpieces
Opening Wednesday, May 3, 2023
Center of Southwest Studies
Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado
Gallery Hours: Monday - Friday from 1 - 4 PM or by appointment
The Center is a small jewel of a museum with one of the finest collections of Navajo weaving in the world. This show will showcase pieces from the Center's permanent collections, which exemplify their makers' skill, attention to detail, and artistry. The exhibit will feature Hispanic, Pueblo, and Diné weavings alongside miniature paintings, textiles, pottery, and more from The Durango Collection® and the Southwest Textile and Art Collections.
Exhibits at the Center are always wonderful. Student assistants are there to answer questions, and if you need a detailed answer to something, Curator Elizabeth MacMillan is just down the hall. This is a small and friendly museum with a great collection that allows you to get up close and personal with the exhibits.
145 W 9th Street
And, of course, you can visit Toh-Atin Gallery while you are in Durango! Don't miss the incredible selection of Navajo weaving at Toh-Atin Gallery. Every day, all day long, in Durango and on the web!
Toh-Atin will again take Navajo weavings on the road to Salt Lake City and Denver this year.
We will be at the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City for a fundraising Navajo Rug sale on April 29 and in Denver for another sale to benefit the University of Colorado in November. It's been three years since we last did these fun events that combine the sale of weavings, free evaluations of your weavings, and talks about the history of the art form and the weavers that create these pieces. We will keep you posted.
Navajo Rug Auction
Crown Point Elementary School
First Friday of Every Month
Viewing Starts at 4 pm
The Crownpoint Navajo Weaver's Association has held a monthly auction of contemporary weavings for years. Navajo weavers bring their rugs in during the day, and that evening the school gymnasium fills with tourists and buyers to bid on the weavings.
As with any auction, inspecting the weavings before you start bidding is good. One time, I took a tour from Crow Canyon Archeological Center to the Auction, and I spent all afternoon looking at weavings, helping people decide how much to pay for the pieces they liked.
About midnight (these things go on a long time), a stunningly beautiful Teec Nos Pos outline weaving came up for auction. I did not remember seeing it during the afternoon, but I really liked it and spent a couple of thousand dollars on it. When I picked it up after the auction, I found it was not straight and about eight inches narrower on one end than the other!
I had ignored the advice that I had given to everyone all afternoon! Never bid on a weaving you have not examined properly!
It is a fun experience, the fry bread is great, and you can visit with many weavers and pick up some nice weavings. Remember that this is not the place to go for collectibles by top weavers, as they would never take a chance by selling their rugs at auction, but there are some good weavings at every auction. Just remember to examine them before the auction starts!
There are no motels in Crownpoint, so plan ahead with reservations in Gallup or Grants, the two closest towns!
Santa Fe Indian Market
Sorrel Sky Gallery
125 W Palace Avenue
Santa Fe, NM
August 19 - 20, 2023
We will be exhibiting Navajo weaving during the Santa FeIndian Market Week in August at the Sorrel Sky Gallery with several talks on weaving.
101st Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial
August 4-11, 2023
It is worth the trip if you have never been to the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial. At Gallup, dealers, individuals, or artists can enter items for judging. The requirement is that the pieces were made after the previous year's Ceremonial.
Why does this make a difference? At Santa Fe, the Heard Market, and other major shows, items have to be entered by the artists. This works pretty well for artists showing at those events, but it is difficult for weavers. Saving up enough rugs to provide a selection, then paying for a booth is expensive. Plus, it is expensive to travel to the shows.
Gallup allows people like our gallery and other traders to enter rugs for judging, and if a ribbon is awarded, the artist gets a copy of it and the prize money. When we get an exceptional weaving, we put it in the vault to save it for the Ceremonial. Many traders do the same thing, which is why a ribbon from the Ceremonial is highly valued. These are often the best rugs a weaver makes during the year, and it gives her a way to sell them and still be recognized for her work.
The Ceremonial is more than an Indian art show. It has traditional dances, a great parade, and a top-notch rodeo.
Many other events in the world of Navajo weaving are coming up this year; we will keep you posted! The art of the Navajo loom is one of America's most significant expressions of creativity, born of function and now recognized for the art it is.