On May 29, 2009 the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History opens a new exhibition, Navajo Weaving: Diamonds, Dreams, Landscapes. The textiles included are from the Museum’s Joe Ben Wheat Southwestern Textile Collection, considered to be one of the world’s best collections of Navajo textiles. Most of these textiles have never been exhibited. This is an exceptional opportunity for the public to learn more about the collection and the Museum’s efforts to preserve textiles for future generations.
Every four months visitors will see a completely different group of these beautiful textiles. The three installations will each showcase twenty to thirty Navajo textiles:
“Diamonds And Beyond” (May 29 – October 1, 2009)
The first installation will include vibrant textiles in both color and design and will focus on the diamond motif commonly woven into Navajo weavings. Emphasis will be on the contemporary weaver’s approach to design and the design elements and their arrangement within each textile. Conversations with contemporary Navajo weavers and artists will add a personal note. Beyond the diamonds a few surprises await.
“Dreams, Schemes and Stories” (October 2, 2009 – February 4, 2010)
Textiles on display during the second installation, Dreams, will include narrative and image-based weavings and will focus on stories. These will include cultural stories of the Navajo people (the Dine), as well as individual stories of weavers who are members of the Navajo community. A wide variety of pictorial rugs will be featured.
“Landscapes” (February 5 – May 30, 2010)
Wide Ruins and crystal style rugs will anchor the third installation, which will focus on the Southwestern landscape that has influenced Navajo cultural and artistic traditions. Many of the textiles are dyed with plants from the Navajo reservation and special emphasis will be given to the art of natural dyeing and the aesthetic impact of color. Motifs such as lightning lines and spider woman crosses are embedded in designs related to cultural stories about the making of the first loom and the beginning of weaving. The relationship to the landscape still influences many of the designs created by contemporary Navajo weavers.
Judy M. Newland, Faculty Exhibit Developer at the Arizona State University Museum of Anthropology, is Guest Curator for the exhibition. She states
“Navajo Weaving: Diamonds, Dreams, Landscapes will bring to light the depth and diversity of the of Natural History’s collection of Navajo textiles. The makers of these textiles created complex and exacting designs, sometimes with a whimsical twist. They were woven for sale and trade, and the threads contain personal and cultural stories expressing the lives and landscape of the Navajo people. This exhibit will take a new look at this extraordinary collection and explore the designs and dreams of weavers who lived primarily in the expansive landscape of the desert southwest.”