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Hands on the Loom: Dine' Textiles Past and Present

Hands on the Loom: Dine' Textiles Past and Present
August 25, 2023 - January 14, 2024


Native America textiles are embedded in American popular culture. From Pendleton to Urban Outfitters, Navajo blanket patterns have been incorporated into clothing, blankets, and other products for western consumption. This appropriation is not new; since the 1800s American trade post owners have been pushing Indigenous peoples to change their designs and create work for a tourist audience. 

During the displacement of the Dine' people from Arizona to New Mexico in 1863, Navajo women began making tourist versions of their blankets as a source of income. When they were relocated back to their homeland 5 years later, this production continued. In a subtle change of color and pattern, prized chiefs’ blankets were transformed into souvenirs. Western traders further influenced blanket production by giving their own ideas for patterns, thereby replacing the traditional meaning behind the blankets.

This exhibition surveys the commodification of Navajo blankets from the 1800s through the contemporary moment. This exhibition also highlights some ways in which artists are now reclaiming their medium and changing viewer perspectives. Some of these artists work outright to take back their traditional patterns and weaving techniques. Others push the limits of their textiles while rediscovering patterns as abstract forms.

Join us on Thursday, August 24th for a conversation between the artists, moderated by guest curator Jennifer Gagliardi.

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