On Oct. 1, 2010, the University of Nebraska State Museum in Morrill Hall opened "A Turning Point: Navajo Weaving in the Late 20th Century," an exhibit showcasing modern Navajo textiles that reflect a culture balancing both tradition and change.
The exhibit, shown in the museum's Cooper Gallery, coincided with the Textile Society of America's 12th Biennial Symposium Oct. 6-9 in Lincoln.
"A Turning Point: Navajo Weaving in the Late 20th Century" featured work by 32 contemporary Navajo weavers from the renowned Santa Fe Collection. The Santa Fe Collection was generously provided by Dr. and Mrs. Charles Rimmer of Amarillo, Texas. The exhibit was curated by Ann Lane Hedlund, director of the Gloria F. Ross Tapestry Program and curator of ethnology at the Arizona State Museum in Tucson. More than 30 hand-woven rugs and tapestries from the 1960s through 1980s were on display, reflecting many styles, including revival, sand painting, pictorial, miniature and sampler. Regional variations from the American Southwest were also represented, from Ganado to Teec Nos Pos and from Tuba City to Two Grey Hills.
The exhibit explored the changing artistic perceptions held by weavers, collectors, dealers and others, as Native American textiles moved from being viewed as traditional craft to fine art. The phrase "turning point" does not reference a specific person or event, but rather the complex cultural shift that emerged in the late 20th century as Navajo weavers began to self-identify as artists and extended their creative expressions beyond their tribal heritage. Guided by interpretive panels, museum visitors discovered the rise of the individual Navajo artists, as well as how hand-woven artwork once seen as anonymously-made curios, trade goods, and home furnishings came to represent artistic mastery and museum-quality investments rich with beauty and cultural meaning.
The Textile Society of America's 12th Biennial Symposium, "Textiles and Settlement: From Plains Space to Cyber Space," was hosted by the UNL Department of Textiles, Clothing and Design. More than 100 textile and fiber art presentations, exhibitions, and workshops were held in Lincoln and Omaha for the enrichment of textiles scholars, artists, professionals and enthusiasts.