Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Water Is Life

"To Ei Iina"
I heard an elder speak once on why, traditionally, running peoples pray when we run.

Water is everywhere, he says.
Water is found in liquid and solid form,
in and above the ground, in the plants, in the animals, in the air.

Water is in us and all around us.

And when we speak and think harmonious words and thoughts, the surrounding water hears and feels that harmony.

And when we speak and think disharmonious words and thoughts, the water also hears and feels that disharmony.

"To Ei Iina" (10" x 13.5" - approx 32 wefts/inch)

This is our power,
this knowledge that when we run,
our feet move across
as much earth as as our feet move across,

that when we run and pray, the vessel that houses our wishes and gratitudes connects with more than when we sit or kneel

that when we run, our lungs take in and expel
air--part water molecules--H20 times two, times three, times four.

Creators, pray.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

DNA & Music

DNA & Music (18 1/2" tall X 12 3/4" wide - approx. 13 wefts/inch)

I've been interested in integrating more traditional designs into my weavings to juxtapose alongside my more contemporary ones. For this piece, I settled on the 3rd Phase Chief Blanket design. I just really like the move from blue, black, and white stripes (1st phase) into the merging of stripes with a broken border of step diagonals (2nd and 3rd phases).

I also was aiming to move away from my "very bright" color palette and wanted to step out of my box and try out more natural grays, greens, and browns. So, for the 3rd Phase Chief Blanket portion of my design (background), I stuck to those colors as much as possible and only allowed myself the smallest amount of blue for the music notes and for the "sparkles" at the ends of the arms of the crosses because this blue is so gorgeous, who could resist? Not me.

The main part of my design, you might recognize as the DNA double helix. The colors that make up the two spirals of phosphate backbone are the colors of the rainbow and the same colors used to represent the LGBTQ community. For the DNA strands, I used audio tape. Feel free to visit the blog post prior to this one for more insight into the music and artist(s) recorded on the tape and the reason for the incorporation of audio tape as weft.

I am very proud of the way this weaving came out, both visually and technically. This project felt "complete" when I sent it away to its new home, which is not something that happens with every piece. In my experience, there are always those tweaks that you wish you could make to a finished piece. Not with this one... It may be because some creations create themselves.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cassette Tape as Weft

Music on cassette tape by Ryan Dennison.
My current piece and the next few are my attempt at exploring the relationship between sound and self-actualization or sound and Creation. Or, the voicing of either oneself or a people into being, into existence, or into newness.

We've perhaps all heard the story of how light was born. All was dark and quiet, and then Someone said, "Let there be Light." And it has never left us since.

And the story of a Five-Fingered People declaring themselves so, and they were, are.

And that People giving names to Places, and Plants, and Animals so that they too would be.

And that People, too, when one of them passes over to where dead people go, don't ever voice his or her name again.

It must be because sound breaches boundaries and dimensions and it is tangible waves that can reach and pull and bring forth.

Babies, before they are born, wrap themselves in the sound of their mother's heartbeat. They stay warm with that sound, and there is nothing else that will keep them here until they are strong enough.

And they would stay there in the womb and be crushed by it if outside sounds didn't draw them out.

So, I incorporate into my current weaving the only "string" I know that has sound attached.

Music on cassette tape by Ryan Dennison.
I saw Ryan Dennison perform a couple times, the last time at the 1Spot Gallery in Phoenix, Arizona. It was an enthralling performance in which he used a "Navajo loom" to create music. Perfectly fitting, don't you think?

Even more perfect is earlier this summer, I ordered a hat from Ryan. Along with my order, he enclosed this tape. I was so excited, especially since I haven't played one of these in at least a decade, and my son and I had an enjoyable night of listening together. Afterwards, I sent Ryan a note asking his permission to allow me to use his tape in my current project. How could I not? When the Universe sends you something, it is already done and you don't question, just move forward. ;)

I've included a link to Ryan's music above and in the photo caption. Please, listen and send Ryan your wonderful feedback.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Untitled - Weaving Workshop at Idyllwild Summer Arts Camp

Untitled (18 1/2" tall X 12" wide - approx. 13 wefts/inch)
This is what happens when you're allowed to choose three colors of yarn and told, "Go weave."

You might plan a design and find that you're not happy with how it looks on the loom, so you take out what you don't like and improvise the rest.

And then later, toward the end, you might ask your son (who is also working on his own weaving right next to you) if you can have a small piece of his red. He agrees, so you add a star to break up the brown.

I wove this piece in a Navajo Weaving Workshop held in Idyllwild, California this past summer which is taught there every summer by Barbara Ornelas and Lynda Pete, two amazing Navajo weaving instructors and insanely talented tapestry weavers.

Weaving this was like taking a relaxing breath. Not knowing initially where the design would take me was freeing for me. Not having anything planned out allowed me only to focus on the rhythm of weaving, the interlocking of joints, the tension of the warp strings, and my handling of the weft.

When I got home, I gave this weaving to my husband. I hope he can steal from it the peace and freedom of creativity that filled its maker while she wove it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bar Code / QR Code

Bar Code / QR Code (24 1/2" tall X 16 1/2" wide - approx. 32 wefts/inch)
Velma Kee Craig's table at the Heard Museum Weavers' Market
Before it was even off the loom, this piece—my largest one to date—was acquired in November 2013 by the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, as part of their permanent collection.

The "stripes" portion of the flag is modeled after a generic barcode. I left the numbers off because I didn't find any reason to add them. (Also, it's beyond my skillset.)

For the "stars" portion of my American flag, I duplicated a QR code off of a sign posted in the front yard of a home in my neighborhood that was currently in foreclosure.

In 2013, back when the house listing was still up and when the textile was on display at the Weavers' Market, spectators were able to scan the QR code and it did take them to the house listing webpage.

A lot of people who see this, thinking they're being helpful, like to tell me that I should have woven into this design or should in the future weave into my designs a QR code that will take my customers or viewers to my website. Not to be rude, but they've missed the message.

This design was an exciting one to weave. No one knew where I was going with it, especially since it starts out with only black and white stripes and continues to be stripes or bars for half of the design. When the red stripes and blue squares and rectangles were added, the design did get more interesting. When enough of the parts of the design were finally added, it was always fun to see the amazement cross over the faces of those visitors who may have seen this piece before its completion.

My version of the flag is not a positive one. It's one to get people thinking about what should be important to the health of our country.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Yaa'at'eeh / Hagoo'onee'

Yaa'at'eeh / Hagoo'onee' (17.5" wide X 16.5" tall)

Yaa'at'eeh and Hagoo'onee' are our greeting and parting words. They would be your Hello and Good bye. What they actually mean, as explained to me by the exceptionally wise and knowledgeable Phillip Bluehouse, is deeper and more spiritual than hello and good bye.

Yaa'at'eeh can be translated to mean, "The universe is." When we greet each other with this word, we are saying to one another, therefore, that we are still here. We are acknowledging our tie to all that exists, including realms inaccessible to us due to the vast distances that separate them from us or due to our lack of intellectual or spiritual maturity. Not only that, we are acknowledging our insignificance, our relationship with, and our dependence on this universe that is.

Hagoo'onee' can be translated to mean, "Until our minds meet again." Navajos never say Good bye. It suggests that this farewell is the end; the phrase is too final. We are not allowed to determine either our own or someone else's destination. Hagoo'onee' implies that there is always the possibility of a reunion, even if that reunion is not a physical one.

I fell in love with my Navajo people all over again when the meanings of just these two common words were explained to me. There is so much wisdom in our language. We do our children and ourselves an injustice when we dumb the translations down to what we think the word's English equivalent may be.

Our ancestors are not only aware of their exact place in this inexplicably vast universe, but they also believe in a realm beyond the physical, where our "minds" will always live. They view the universe as existing now and know it will not always, and I don't sense any fear of the unknown. Like the universe and us presently, the unknown just is.

The raised handprints in this piece were an experiment. I had to discover for myself a way to make the handprints three-dimensional. I initially wanted to make them all one color (black) so that the viewer would have to touch the design to “see” it, forcing the viewer to become a part of the piece, but I wasn’t brave enough. Perhaps, next time.


Yaa'at'eeh / Hagoo'onee'

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Static (14.5" wide X 20.5" tall)

The word static has two meanings. Static can mean either stagnant (stuck in time) or interference (usually electrical).

The indigo, black, and white stripe design, also known as the Chief Blanket design, was the first design Navajo weavers wove. I chose to frame this pattern within the television because (1) it looks very much like bad picture reception and (2) it is an older design which allows it to signify the stagnation of the portrayal of Natives on screen, or in popular media at large.

Above the television, we see other patterns that have come after that first design. Diagonals, pixelated crosses, and the electronic representation of a heartbeat. All of these together are how I choose to represent the continuation of our existence and dynamism of our cultures.