Monthly Archives: April 2013

Folk Art Quilts

Our gallery hosts a wide and eclectic mix of textiles, furnishings, fine art, jewelry, pottery, basketry, and of course, Visvim. This past week some of the most eccentric and incredible pieces came in: including an enormous display case, fine art from the early 20th century and this gorgeous Folk Art quilt (pictured below).

Folk Art quilt

Folk Art quilt c. 1890

Navajo Transitional TextileNavajo Transitional Textile c. 1890

Folk Art is a fascinating way for us learn more about the aesthetic influences of the 1890’s- 1910’s. This quilt was made c. 1890 and features an American flag motif. We also see some of the finest Navajo pictorial textiles of this period featuring similar motifs (one of our favorites, pictured above). A NY Times article on the subject of folk art quilts likens them to Navajo blankets as “many can be counted amongst the earliest abstract art in post-conquest North America.” **

Both quilts and Navajo blankets were forms of free expression, especially during this transitional period. Many Folk Art quilts from this period would adapt a common pattern in order to free it from its typical or rigid structure. The quilt above takes the American flag and alters it in order express this freedom, similarly the Navajo textile does not stick to the archetypal flag image.

Like vintage Navajo textiles, they were originally utilitarian and now generally function as collectible artworks.  Please inquire if you’d like any further information!

** Smith, Roberta. “Downsizing in a Burst of Glory.” NY Times, 12 May 2011. Web. 12 April 2013.

Navajo Wearing Blankets

Navajo wearing blankets are especially rare and difficult to come by and they have a very rich history as well as widespread influence in the modern world. The original designs of Navajo weavings were intended only for wear. Existing wearing blankets are generally seen in museums or in private collections, and we are lucky enough to have a selection of offerings in the gallery from the Late Classic and Classic Eras.

Late Classic Wearing Blankets

Late Classic Wearing Blankets

All the examples above, c. 1870, are made with handspun wool dyed with indigo, synthetic dyes, and some feature cochineal or lac raveled wool. Indigo blue is a natural dye that is rarely used past the turn of the 20th century. Cochineal is especially uncommon because Navajo weavers would have to ravel the material from previously woven trade blankets. The detail and master craftsmanship of each of these pieces, as with most wearing blankets in excellent condition, is astonishing. They are woven so finely they are practically water repellent. Wearing blankets were meant to stand out; the wearer would want to be seen from a distance, generally on horseback, and be immediately recognizable.

Shiprock Santa Fe has unique access to some of the most amazing vintage Native American pieces. Wearing blankets from this era are often not displayed on our website, so please inquire if you’d like to see any additional photos or get further information about the pieces seen here!