Diné (The People) are more commonly known as the Navajo. These Athabascan speakers settled between 1,000 and 1,525 CE—along the regions whose political boundaries we recognize today as Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. Originally a hunting and gathering culture, archaeological evidence reveals the Navajo possessed weaving skills to make clothing and other utilitarian objects to support their lifestyle. Women were the weavers. They utilized an upright loom strung with a continuous, vertically oriented warp yarn. A textile is crafted by threading the thicker weft yarn horizontally over and under the vertical warp. Each new stitch builds the fabric in a manner similar to the way a mason creates a brick wall—piece by piece. The grid-like format of "building" the textile lends itself to the creation of geometric forms. This exhibition closely examines the play of geometry in a variety of functional Navajo textiles in the collection of The Fralin.
The Navajo weaver strikes a harmonious balance between the mind, the hand, and the material. The integrity and balance of a Navajo textile reflects the visual and spiritual features of the southwestern landscape. Nature's symmetry in form and design captures a sense of order in a culture that sees physical and spiritual life in dualities. For successful completion of a textile, the design, which is held solely in the weaver's mind, controls the weaving process. Self-control is one of the highest values found in Navajo society. Weaving is an integral part of Navajo life; as weavers develop their artistic skills, they also gain insight into the Navajo value system. A successful weaver becomes a valued part of the community and contributor to the family economy.
The Fralin Museum of Art's programming is generously supported by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.
This exhibition was made possible by a generous gift from Arts$. We also wish to thank our in-kind donors: WTJU 91.1 FM and Ivy Publications LLC's Charlottesville Welcome Book.