McAllen International Museum

June 17th

     Navajo textiles have won worldwide admiration and acclaim. For over a century, they have remained examples of the very best of Native American artistry. As works of art, they speak to the mind and the heart, stirring the imagination of all who see them. They endure as emblems of a prized North American legacy, and they proclaim a vibrant, ongoing native presence among us. Yet the rugs remain mute, and thus are incomplete. This new exhibition at the McAllen International Museum addresses this silence and gives them voice so their stories can be heard.

Navajo weaving responds to a vast landscape and a history that stretches back beyond recorded history to its mythic origins. The stories that the textiles tell grow out of a deep, collective awareness unlike any in Western culture. Their beauty drives meaning from a cycle of ancient stories handed down by word of mouth for generations. These tales tell how life originated in a shadowy, primal world deep within the earth. They explain how early, pre-human inhabitants evolved through three worlds to emerge fully developed into this, the fifth world. Other stories tell how two warrior twins defeated a horde of voracious giants and marauding monsters to make this world safe for humans, and how an alliance of clans united to forge a distinct Navajo identity.

These tales account for the contour of the landscape and the placement of sun, moon and stars. They explain the continuous interplay of light with shadow, earth with sky, day with night, male with female, and ordinary humans with supernatural beings. They define how people should act towards one another to rectify wrongdoing and maintain the earth’s fragile balance – what the Navajos call hozbo, a word that combines beauty, balance and harmony, and also a rug will-made. This is why this exhibition of Navajo rugs and textiles is presented in the context of an ongoing oral tradition of chants, stories and ceremonies, all of which help to define the Navajo presence in the Southwest. Navajo weaving is a conceptual art, or as one weaver expressed in a recent interview, “My rugs are my thoughts.” More than an art or a craft, weaving is a way of life for the Navajo people, with much to say about their myths and history.

What traditional weavers and elders say about the textiles featured in this exhibition gives new meaning to their oral traditions and dispels the long-held belief that their blankets and rugs are merely designs. Navajo textiles are woven books with something to say about the weaver, her ideas and the ideas of her culture. Thus, in keeping with the five stages of creation which Navajo storytelling tradition recognizes, the textiles will be arranged in five groups: myth, history, ceremony, the search for order, and moving around in a dynamic landscape.

The exhibition includes 26 textiles displayed with photographs of weavers, excerpts from chants and writings, photo details of rug designs as well as videos about this unique art form. This comprehensive combination of art and explanation makes this an extraordinarily educational exhibit that will open minds and hearts to the wonders of the Native American landscape.

For further information, contact the Museum Curator Vernon Weckbacker at 682-1564.

Copyright © 1998,1999 2000, 2001  McAllen International Museum
This is a
Kennedy Media Site.  Please report any technical difficulties .

Website generously provided by: