Local Artists Create Inspired Floorcoverings
The lore of Native American culture comes alive through handwoven rugs.
By Tyler Peckham
In Arizona, the abundance of Native American culture, craft and tradition inspires numerous items made for the home. One of the most beautiful and long-lasting examples is handwoven rugs created by local artists who interpret historical designs, patterns, colors and techniques with care and respect for this regional legacy.
Seventh-generation weaver Irvin Trujillo learned the craft from his father, Jacobo. Producing only five to seven rugs in a year, his intricate designs are highly sought after. The starry pattern of this piece, Grace (pictured above), is embellished with delicate details and gold accents. 84″L by 54″W. $45,000 (chimayoweavers.com)
A member of the Navajo master-weaving Vanwinkle family, 33-year-old Glenda Kisemh produces beautiful wool designs under the tutelage of her mother, Alice Thompson. Kisemh’s interpretation of the Klagetoh design—which originated in Arizona—features red, black and white in strong triangular shapes. 41″L by 26″Wx. $5,400 (heardmuseumshop.com)
Considered by many as the finest Navajo rug design, Two Grey Hills originated in New Mexico. In her present-day rendition of this iconic textile, Navajo weaver Julia Pete uses a traditional neutral coloration and a pattern featuring a strong border, four matching corners and a large centerpiece of diamonds. 63″L by 41″W. $6,000 (shopmusnaz.org)
Lightning, an important symbol for strength and power in Navajo lore, plays a pivotal role in the Storm Pattern design—the only traditional weaving that features a natural event. This example by Evelyn Yazzie includes the time-honored triangular centerpiece as well as four corner blocks that represent either the four winds or four mountains of the tribe. 60″L by 39″W. $1,200 (heardmuseumshop.com)
Schooled in the craft by her husband, Irvin, weaver Lisa Trujillo uses naturally dyed wool to create beautiful New Mexico-style rugs. Meant to evoke the setting sun, Trujillo’s Lipstick Sunset incorporates Navajo-style patterns with nontraditional lavender and salmon hues. 72″L by 48″W. $8,500 (chimayoweavers.com)
Using handspun wool and vegetable dyes as Navajo weavers have done for centuries, artist Martha Smith created this earth-toned spin on the Burntwater design. Her belt-style triangular centerpiece complements the rug’s precisely repeated geometrics. 58″L by 36″W. $4,800 (heardmuseumshop.com)
Artisan Emily Blake mixes classic earth tones with unexpected pops of green and blue in her version of Two Grey Hills. The triangle shape historically symbolizes the Navajo homeland. 71″L by 47″W. $6,000 (heardmuseumshop.com)