Navajo weaving

Growing up on the edge of the Navajo Reservation

Growing up on the edge of the Navajo Reservation

In my last post I reviewed Spider Woman’s Children: Navajo Weavers Today, a new book by Lynda Teller Pete and Barbara Teller Ornelas. As part of that post I found myself writing what follows but then felt my own experience was out of place when discussing that beautiful publication. So what follows is some thoughts about my own relationship to Navajo weaving today. You can read the blog post about the book HERE.

I grew up in Gallup, NM. That town on I-40 is perched on the edge of the Navajo Indian Reservation just south of where Lynda and Barbara grew up. Slowly, I came to know a little about Navajo weaving. My parents took us to Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site whenever we had out-of-town guests they wanted to show around. Inevitably that was followed by a trip to Canyon de Chelly. I understood nothing of tribal/US politics as a child. Nor did I understand much about poverty or the roots of the struggles the Navajo people have experienced at the hands of the federal government.

DY Begay's show at U.C. Davis

Sara Lamb had a post about DY Begay's show at UC Davis this past week. I really enjoyed her words about DY Begay and greatly wished I could have heard DY speak (not to mention seeing these gorgeous weavings in person).

Sara's blog is Woven Thoughts and the post Recharge about DY Begay is HERE. In her post, Sara has this to say about DY, which echoes my own feelings about this amazing contemporary Navajo weaver.
It was a quietly revealing and inspiring talk given by a woman who knows her true place, and her value, along the continuum of weavers, mothers, Dine, and desert dwellers.

DY's show is at the C.N. Gorman Museum at U.C. Davis. The curator of the museum was kind enough to send me a catalog the day she got them as I realized I was not going to be in the vicinity of Davis during the run of this show. The catalog is very well done and I recommend a copy. You can purchase it HERE.

Here is an excerpt of the artist statement in the catalog. DY's words:
I am blessed that I can stand outside my home (hogan) and see far in all four directions. There are formations outlined in stepped patterns painted in bundles of red streaks, subtle shades of pinks, clusters of dusty-ochre, and flickering sand tone colors. At dawn, shoots of pale baby blue awaken the sky, and I sometimes see deep dark indigo, pinks and shades of soft yellows. The sunrise is often my canvas - it seduces my imagination with colors, curiosity, and beauty. These images are replaced at the end of the day by flaming oranges as the sun sets for the evening and night takes on dark, forbidding colors. These daily encounters with light, color, remarkable land formations, and a lifetime of memories are the textures I reflect on, interpret, and explore in my tapestries.
I grew up in Gallup, NM near the Navajo Reservation and I can feel DY's descriptions of the land she is from in my own heart.

Here are two photos from the northeastern part of Arizona near Chinle where DY is from.