Presenting Navajo Finery
COLLECTOR UPDATE: Navajo Finery has been sold.
My newest painting depicts a c.1870s man wearing a jewel of the Navajo loom
In Navajo Finery, I portray a proud Navajo man from the 1870s. He is wearing a classic third phase chief’s blanket.
A valuable possession
Before Navajo women developing expertise at weaving rugs in the late-1800s, the weavers created dazzling blankets to be worn as garments and trading. These blankets, handspun, hand-dyed, and painstakingly woven, were valuable commodities.
I asked Mark Winter, Navajo Weaving expert and proprietor of the historic Toadlena Trading Post to explain the significance a fine blanket had to the people of this era.
“In the days before pickup trucks, a blanket was a highly important item to own,” says Winter. “Given the extreme temperature changes of the Southwest, a blanket was light enough in weight to carry on horseback when it wasn’t being used, but significant enough for warmth when the temperatures plummeted.”
Beauty from the loom
Anyone who has seen the early blankets realizes that there was more going on than simple utilitarian function – classic Navajo blankets can be breathtaking in their composition and interplay of colors. Winter explains this as well:
“Navajo blanket designs are a great representation of the people. These bold, strong weavings were a reflection of the people who made them and wore them,” Winter says. “They are as culturally important as a Japanese kimono or other traditional garb.”
Blankets, like the one pictured in Navajo Finery, allowed the wearer to be identified from long distances as well. The viewer could discern patterns of a blanket far before his face could be identified.
Your purchase of this painting will help young Navajo weavers learn their craft
Navajo Finery is part of a six-piece exhibit (three paintings and three sculptures) that will be sold to help raise funds for the Toadlena Young Weaver’s Project, a non-profit fund administered by the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian [LINK: http://www.wheelwright.org/] in Santa Fe.
Twenty percent of the price of this painting will be donated to this fund to help defray the costs of teaching traditional weaving skills to interested Navajo youth from the area of the historic Toadlena Trading Post in western New Mexico.
The donations to the young weavers of the historic Toadlena Trading Post will be made by my new organization, Wopila Artist Guild.
This guild was created for interested artists to help sustain traditional art forms by providing support and funds for Native American youth art education.
Adding Navajo Finery to your collection
The inaugural Wopila Artist Guild exhibit will be unveiled for the Navajo people of the historic Toadlena Trading Post at an exhibit on June 18, 2011 at the post’s bi-annual community fiesta.
You may purchase Navajo Finery now, before the exhibit opens.
You will receive your painting—along with photographs of the work at the show and printed materials after the exhibit closes on August 21, 2011. You are also invited to attend the trading post’s party in person and meet the weavers first-hand that inspired Navajo Finery.
If you would like to reserve Navajo Finery for your collection and help the weaving education of the Navajo youth of the historic Toadlena Trading Post, please contact me by email or telephone my assistant Amy at 602-510-3662.
For more information on the exhibit, or to receive an invitation to the trading post party please see the Wopila Artist Guild website.