A Continued Practice: Pueblo Textile Traditions Highlighted in IARC Tour
Sarah Soliz, SAR Press Acquisitions Editor
On a recent Sunday afternoon at the Indian Arts Research Center, Pueblo weavers Aric Chopito (Zuni Pueblo) and Louie Garcia (Prio Manso Tiwa tribe of Guadalupe Pueblo) and embroiderer Isabel Gonzales (Jemez Pueblo) came together with director Brian Vallo for a guided tour of the collections. The tour followed a panel discussion with the participants for SAR members and the public about the history and revitalization of the Pueblo weaving tradition, as well as the physical, financial, and cultural struggles that these artists continue to face.
The artists described how Pueblo people are themselves interested in learning more about the history of this art form. As cultures lose weaving traditions and face the threat of outside appropriation, weavers and their respective communities wish to foster conversations about the development and authenticity of certain methods. Chopito, SAR’s 2010 Rollin and Mary Ella King Native Artist Fellow, told the audience, “That’s our struggle as Native people, as Pueblo people, to carry this work on. . . . I am very humbled to be here, and I am very thankful for everybody who invited us to share with you our way of life, and it’s always a life of prayer. That’s who we are as Pueblo weavers.”
After the discussion, Vallo led the tour of the IARC collections. As part of a research collection, the IARC textiles and other works of art are used by contemporary artists and source communities to better understand the methods, materials, and designs implemented by artists in the past. Nicholas Seeds, an IARC volunteer who joined the tour, later said,
Taking the IARC tour with Brian Vallo and the three Pueblo textile artists following their excellent presentations on the ancient tradition and techniques of pueblo weaving/embroidery was a real treat. We were shown a number of classic weavings, from an 1800 Acoma breechcloth to a recent Jemez embroidered manta. The vivid commentary by the three speakers as to the weaving techniques involved and characterization of the different design elements on these weavings was exciting and educational.
Because the IARC collections contain over nine hundred textiles, this special tour was only able to scratch the surface of the potential insights the collection can provide for future artists, scholars, and source communities. As the IARC continues to make sure the collections are accessible and properly documented, the opportunities for future discoveries and meaningful dialogues with communities grow substantially.
In his introduction to the discussion, Vallo reflected on “this gift of the creator, this art form”:
I feel like we’ve been very blessed to see that this tradition continues, that we are still very interested in knowing more about this tradition, and that in doing so, in making the inquiry, we fulfill our inherent responsibility to ensure that we are creating these garments and ceremonial materials to sustain our life into the future.
The IARC offers weekly guided tours for members and the public. Sign up today and experience the treasures of the collections firsthand. Learn more about the IARC tours in this short video: