Weavers in the present-day southwestern United States and northern Mexico have long employed diverse artistic practices and materials to create distinctive textiles. Groups have traded yarns and dyes, designs and technologies, and finished products across this region and the world.
Southwest Weavings: 800 Years of Artistic Exchange presents 13 outstanding wearing blankets and rugs, and explores the layers of global migration and trade in these textiles. Native American Diné (Navajo) artists, the most famous group of southwestern weavers, adapted Pueblo-style upright looms from their neighbors and wool from Churro sheep introduced by Spanish colonists. Trade brought far-flung garments to New Mexico which inspired Diné designs, and the products of Diné looms traveled hundreds of miles through Native and colonial networks. In the late-19th century, Diné textiles exploded with color as pre-spun yarns with synthetic dyes became available.
The exhibition celebrates the recent gift of southwestern textiles and related works from St. Louis collectors, Elissa and Paul Cahn. The gift allows the Museum to offer a significantly more comprehensive presentation of Native American art. Southwest Weavings: 800 Years of Artistic Exchange is curated by Alexander Brier Marr, assistant curator for Native American art.