New Hands, Native Lands

Contemporary American Indian Ceramics and Textiles

October 05, 2008 - February 08, 2009 - Bohorfoush Gallery

The exhibition New Hands, Native Lands presents recent Navajo pictorial textiles and Pueblo pottery from the American Southwest as a compelling blend of tradition and innovation in both craft and design.The Pueblos are a group of 30 Native American villages,including the well-known Hopi, located primarily in New Mexico and Arizona. Traditional uses for Pueblo pottery included storage and burial goods, but the fired clay wares began to be collected—first as souvenirs, and then as fine art—by a non-Native-American market with the opening of the railroad in 1880. The ceramics tradition in the Pueblo area began more than 2,000 years ago, and many artists in this exhibition trace their ancestry back to generations of potters, including Jacob Koopee, Jr., great-great grandson of the famous 19th-century Hopi potter, Nampeyo.

For the Navajo people, who live adjacent to the Pueblos, weaving is an important part of their identity, history, culture, and economy. Traditional weavings include blankets and robes featuring geometric motifs, but weavers responded to the new market opened up by the railroad and began to create pictorial textiles. Once created for tourists, pictorial textiles have become their own important Navajo tradition, and their subject matter reflects all aspects of Navajo life.