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As the World Turns: Navajo Weaving Joins the Art World

A public lecture at the Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, on Sunday, March 27, 2011 [NOTE the change in date from a previous posting] For more about the exhibition, which opens to the public on February 5, 2011, click here: A Turning Point .

As part of the Heard Museum’s spring lecture series, exhibition curator Ann Hedlund will discuss the growing recognition of Navajo weaving as an art form by collectors, curators and the weavers themselves. Based on her long-term field research, she’ll describe weaving’s transition from craft to art, from household decoration to museum display, and from curio to investment. Recent trends on and off the Navajo Nation are illustrated with the speaker’s evocative photographs.

This lecture accompanies the Heard Museum’s exhibition, “A Turning Point: Navajo Weaving in the Late Twentieth Century,” on view from February 5 through May 22, 2011. Among the premier Navajo weavers represented with work on the gallery walls are Barbara Ornelas and her aunt Margaret Yazzie; Ella Rose Perry; Sarah Paul Begay; Lilly Touchin; Genevieve Shirley; the late Elsie Wilson and her sister Sadie Curtis; Jason Harvey; Winnie James (aka Martha Smith); the late Larry Yazzie; and other accomplished artists.

“This show,” wrote the editors American Indian Art magazine, “examines how the perception of Navajo weaving as an art form grew out of the sociopolitical context of the twentieth century, particularly the civil rights movement of the 1960s, when Indian self-determination, Native sovereignty, the concept of the individual artist and the power of artistic expression gained prominence.”

You can see the collection exhibited from another point of view by clicking here

Release Date: October 18, 2010


Debra Krol, 602.251.0218 or

Kate Crowley, 602.251.0283 or

Michele Crank, 602.251.0232 or


A “Turning Point” for Navajo Weaving

PHOENIX, Ariz.– For curator Dr. Ann Lane Hedlund, a gently curving road that leads the traveler in a different direction is an image she conjures to describe the gradual change in Navajo weaving that took place in the late 20th century as a traditional craft changed to include acclaim for weavers as artists, whose work is shown in urban galleries and who explore new aesthetics. Hedlund explores this change from everyday craft to sought-after art in A Turning Point: Navajo Weaving in the Late Twentieth Century, which opens at the Heard Museum on February 5, 2011.

For A Turning Point: Navajo Weaving in the Late Twentieth Century, Hedlund has selected 30-plus Navajo rugs and tapestries from the renowned Santa Fe Collection of Dr. Charles and Linda Rimmer, which has been pledged to the Heard. The Santa Fe Collection is the subject of a 2004 book by Hedlund, who is a professor of anthropology and curator or ethnology at Arizona State Museum in Tucson. Dating from the 1970s into the 1990s, these textiles represent many styles handwoven by some of the most accomplished Navajo weavers. Guided by interpretive panels, visitors will be challenged to find elements that represent both traditional continuity and powerful changes in each artwork.

During the 20th century, American Indian weavers in the Southwest began to self-identify as artists and to explore aesthetics beyond tribal traditions. Simultaneously, urban galleries started featuring Navajo rugs as fine art, and collectors grew to recognize the spectacular beauty and significant cultural and personal meanings of Southwest textiles. The rise of individual artists, formal arts training and the titling of new pieces became significant trends.

The textiles demonstrate the fascinating and complex shift from traditional craft to fine art. They move away from anonymously made curios, functional home furnishings and trade goods to represent signed artistic expressions, focal display items and museum-quality investments. Like other artists, Navajo weavers of the American Southwest are affected today by challenging economic, cultural, and natural environments. Taking these into account, the exhibit emphasizes Navajo weavers’ successful efforts toward artistic self-determination, innovative production, and creative marketing.

The exhibit will be on display through May 22, 2011, and will be followed by a second exhibit, Navajo Textiles: 100+ Years of Weaving, curated by Dr. Ann Marshall of the Heard Museum. The second exhibit, which opens on June 9, 2011, will further explore the rich artistry of Navajo weavings.

** A variety of high-resolution images are available. Please call Debra Krol at 602.251.0218 or email

Heard Museum – Native Cultures and Art

2301 North Central Ave., Phoenix, Ariz.   85004-1323

602.252.8840 or visit

About the Heard Museum – Since 1929, the Heard has educated visitors from around the world about the art and cultures of Native people of the Southwest. With more than 38,500 artifacts in its permanent collection, an education center and award-winning Shop and café, the Heard remains committed to being a place of learning, discovery and unforgettable experiences.
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