Unfolding Tradition: Rio Grande Textiles

Unfolding Tradition will highlight the work of weavers Irvin and Lisa Trujillo of Chimayo, NM. Irvin Trujillo, a seventh generation weaver, was the recipient of a 2007 National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He began weaving at the age of 10 under the tutelage of his father, renowned weaver Jacobo Ortega Trujillo. As both a steward of tradition and an innovator, Irvin has been awarded three Grand Prizes and the Master’s Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Spanish Market in Santa Fe.

Irvin Trujillo states: “When I do a major piece it is like putting my life on that line of weft. All of my experience goes into it. I am trying to approach the spirit of the old pieces. In doing that, I need to learn from the past and how to live in my time and environment. I’ve studied everything from Japanese anime to Walt Disney movies. Ideas can come from anywhere.”

Lisa Trujillo learned to weave following her marriage to Irvin in the early 1980s. While Lisa has a non-Hispanic background, she regularly participates in and receives awards at Santa Fe’s Spanish Market. Her intricate designs and technical virtuosity have won her wide praise. She is a major advocate for weaving. Lisa Trujillo states: “Weaving is the process of allowing the skills of creativity, imagination, vision, mathematics, rhythm and pattern to come through. I also think of weaving as process rather than product. The 20th century is moving too fast; weaving is a process that allows us to slow down.”

Rio Grande Textiles are a centuries-old art form introduced by the early Spanish settlers along the Rio Grande River in northern New Mexico. It is a tradition which developed parallel with Native American weaving and has played an integral part in the development of Spanish Colonial culture in the American Southwest.

Unfolding Tradition will include historic Rio Grande textiles to illustrate the lineage of this rich tradition. The approximately 30 contemporary and historic works are drawn from artist studios, museums and private collections throughout the United States.

During the past 18 years, JCCC’s Gallery of Art presented nine major textile exhibitions.   “The upcoming show of Rio Grande weavings represents our 10th textile exhibit and the first such exhibition in the new Nerman Museum. It will be a dazzling display of design and color, and hopefully, it will bring greater appreciation to this grand weaving tradition,” said Bruce Hartman, executive director, Nerman Museum.