Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hozho



Hózhó (17" x 14" - approx 64 wefts/inch)

When I was slightly older than a newborn, my parents were driving to my grandma's. Somehow, the vehicle slid off the road, and when it was all over, my baby self was the only thing no longer in the cab of the truck. They found me a distance away, still snug in my cradleboard, the triangle "feet" of my cradleboard stuck solid into the snow.

I might have made up the snow. But we slid off the road.

I don't think I made up the snow.


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I've heard this story a few times growing up, and each time I think, "Wow. If I hadn't been swaddled and secured into a cradleboard. . ."

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When I was slightly older than a newborn, my parents were driving to my grandma's. My mom had just picked up my father from jail. Before this, in some alcohol- and jealosy-fueled rage, he set our home on fire. He set our home in the city on fire while we were sleeping next door at our neighbor's because she knew he'd been drinking heavily and was all too familiar with what that led to. When he found we weren't home, it led to his setting any nearby thing that would light onto the burners and turning up the heat.

I know I'm mixing stories together.

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What I learned about trauma and memory is sometimes, the person who has undergone trauma experiences every painful thing as a sort of soup. All the messy parts from long ago and just yesterday simmer alongside one another with no real order, getting more and more stirred and melded together each time they're regurgitated by the post-traumatized brain. Which is why I don't blame anyone for leaving out the left out parts of the early story version. Sometimes, it's the only way the story can be told or heard until it's ready to be told or heard another way.

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My young mother was exhausted and hurt and fearful.

On this drive, with me sleeping soundly in her lap, she told my father of the things that needed to change or she would leave. He pressed the gas hard, gripped the steering wheel harder. He rolled us off the road, and after they found me a distance away safe in my cradleboard with the triangle feet stuck solid in the ice, 

she stayed.

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It was difficult for me to feel at home anywhere after that.

We lived several places--with shimasani, in the basement of my uncle's, in a hogan at my nalii's, and finally into our own home again, which we outgrew almost as soon as we moved in.

I think about those first years living with shimasani. But now instead of focusing on my pre-school self, I try to feel what my mom was feeling, carrying more than her share of the work of raising three children under the age of three. What I learn by doing this (and I'm being kind to myself in saying it this way) is that I was too hard on her.

Hózhó (17" x 14" - approx 64 wefts/inch)
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"As humans we straddle the border between health and sickness, good and evil, happiness and sadness. According to hózhó, the purpose of life is to achieve balance, in a continual cycle of gaining and retaining harmony."

~unknown

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This weaving had me thinking of what hózhó looks like, in particular, as it pertains to the individual and to the family.

It had me revisiting the moments of my life that I have yet to make peace with and do things like list for myself those factors that I had no control over and own those elements that I did, and also know that how well I did or didn't handle things was largely due to how equipped I was at the time.

It had me tell myself that maybe I'll never gain peace over everything, but that didn't mean I couldn't still move forward. It had me allowing myself a dose of anger to be kept, and in doing so, allowed me to rid myself of way more, making space in me to fill with hopefully goodness.

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Hózhó is recognition of the healing/destructive power that is you--ownership of how your words and actions create your part of this world we all share. It is starting anew each day with a more grown perspective that builds upon the previous day.

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Which brings me to my post script.

I love my father. This and these are moments my parents have moved past and grew from. The ideal for everyone would have been that our safe place did not ever become a place flooded with disharmony. But things did, and as they stand now, my father is 40 years more settled and more patient and more kind. He laughs easier, at himself and everyone else. He isn't just dad anymore, but also grandpa, and his children and grandchildren are lucky to have him.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Water Is Life

To 'Ei 'Iina (13 1/2" x 10" - approx 64 wefts/inch)
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 (13 1/2" x 10" - approx 64 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. 26 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" x 12" - 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" x 16 1/2" - approx. 64 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' (16.5" x 17.5" - approx 32 wefts/inch)

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.

Hagoo'onee'.

Yaa'at'eeh / Hagoo'onee' (16.5" x 17.5" - approx 32 wefts/inch)