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Trees in a Circle: Navajo Weavings of Teec Nos Pos
September 18 - November 14, 2004
(above: Artist Unknown, Teec Nos Pos, 54.5 x 90 inches. Farmington Museum, Ed and Jed Foutz Collection)
Trees in a Circle: Navajo Weavings of the Teec Nos Pos showcases 31 of the finest examples of the Teec Nos Pos weaving style, from its beginnings in the late 19th century through today. Teec Nos Pos textiles utilize bold intricate geometric designs which are saturated with color. Teec Nos Pos weavers often weave larger works than their Navajo neighbors, and generally compose symmetrical designs and a complex design system of outlined images. These types of weavings are typically made in the Northeast region of the Navajo Reservation near the trading post, but weavers from as far away as Mexican Water, Arizona and Beclabito, New Mexico have worked in the Teec Nos Pos style. The earlier textiles are more muted in color than the contemporary works, reflecting increased access to bright commercial dyes. However, the definitive patterning and style of Teec Nos Pos is evident in all of the works. The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art will present Trees in a Circle: Navajo Weavings of Teec Nos Pos September 18 - November 14, 2004 in the LRMA Lower Level Galleries. (right: Bessy Lee, Eyedazzler (1996), 48 x 67 1/4 inches. Farmington Museum, Kathy Foutz Collection)
Trees in a Circle features a collection of weavings spanning nearly a century. Organized by the Farmington Museum in Farmington, New Mexico, the exhibition presents a rare glimpse into the aesthetic, technical and design evolution of a particular weaving tradition. These spectacular textiles are brought to life by insights from Navajo weavers and the connected story of one trading post family's heritage.
"Teec Nos Pos," (pronounced Tees-NAHS-pas) meaning "Trees in a Circle" in Navajo, takes its name from cottonwoods that grow around water at the trading post's remote northeast Arizona location. In this vicinity, where the four states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet (known as the Four Corners), a trading post dynasty was born. Hamp Noel and his wife Eva Foutz started the Teec Nos Pos Trading Post in 1905. In the intervening century, four generations of relatives have run this old-time trading post located on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. The family, headed by Russell and Helen Foutz who owned the post for fifty years, has continued to buy rugs and encourage weavers to produce quality work to this day. Currently the Teec Nos Pos Trading Post is owned by Kathleen Foutz, daughter of Russell and Helen; their nephew Ed Foutz runs the Shiprock Trading post with his son Jed Foutz. Both posts continue the family trading post tradition, and continue to work with Navajo weavers.
Teec Nos Pos style weaving is thought to have been influenced by imported Oriental rug designs; some formal similarities can be seen. Regardless of its past or influences, Navajo weavers have adapted and taken the design to new heights of sophistication. Teec Nos Pos style utilizes bold intricate geometric designs saturated with color. Typically, in Teec Nos Pos weavings, the compositional elements are balanced symmetrically and consist of a complex design of outlined images.
Over time, certain innovations have affected the appearance and design of Teec Nos Pos weavings. The 1910s to 1930s textiles are characterized by muted color tones with very little use of intense colors. By the 1940s, chemical aniline dyes were available and weavers begun to bring more bright colors into the weavings as highlights. As transportation on the Reservation improved, wool was shipped out for processing, which eliminated the need for hand-cleaning, carding, and spinning. Many Teec weavers continue to use commercially processed yarn in their weavings today. However, there is currently a resurgence in the old ways and a desire to revive the traditions by using vegetal dyes and hand-spun yarn.
Navajo weavers are intimately aware of their weaving tradition and articulate regarding their thoughts on design and cultural concepts. Tiana Bighorse explains, "Nowadays there is lots of different kinds of design. But I still remember those old designs that my mother used to make. I like to weave these designs so they will not be forgotten." Another Navajo weaver provides insight into one of the misunderstood weaving practices known as the "weaver's pathway," a mysterious line that sometimes crosses through the border to the edge of a rug. She relates: "Some people just weave and weave and weave all the time. And sometimes they think they might just weave their life away. So they put that line in so they can escape. Or they think they might weave themselves into the rug. And they put the line in so they can get out." (right: Roselyn and Hilda Begay, Teec Nos Pos (1978), 64.5 x 88 inches. Farmington Museum, Kathy Foutz Collection)
Bart Wilsey, Curator of the Farmington Museum will speak at the exhibition opening September 23 at 5:30 p.m., followed by the opening reception from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Editor's note: RL readers may also enjoy:
this online audio show:
Boston College partnered with the Forum Network for:
these online videos:
Smithsonian TV is a central index of multimedia content and a multimedia hosting service of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Smithsonian TV is streaming these programs on its web site:
The University of Arizona Library presents 21 QuickTime video clips from the production Navajo Weaving originally produced in 1990 by KUAT-TV, Tucson, Arizona.
The WGBH/Boston Forum Network includes a number of videos on Art and Architecture. Partners include a number of Boston-area museums, colleges, universities and other cultural organizations. Boston College partnered with the Forum Network for:
and thisVHS video:
Art of Navajo Weaving and The Durango Collection of Southwest Textiles, The is a 56 minute dual-film video distributed by Interpark, Cortez, CO. The Art of Navajo Weaving beautifully documents the state of Navajo weaving, looking at it's origins and, through a visit with a contemporary Navajo weaving family, it's current state. It features Isabel and Geanita John, award winning pictorial weavers. The Durango Collection, an interesting and educational film, is a tour through the Durango Collection, the most complete collection of Navajo and Southwestern weaving in the world. The Collection is a part of The Southwest Center at Fort Lewis College The film is narrated by Jackson Clark and Mark Winter. (text courtesy of petroglyphtrail.com)
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