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Hadley Welch Jensen
Bard Graduate Center / American Museum of Natural History Postdoctoral Fellow in Museum Anthropology

“Shaped by the Loom: Weaving Worlds in the American Southwest”

To know Navajo weaving, one must also understand the network of relationships that sustains a larger world, or ecosystem, of craft production in the American Southwest. This world includes the sheep, the seasonal cycles that guide the harvesting of dye plants, the individual and communal rhythms of making, and the cosmologies that inform a weaver’s work. With this in mind, Shaped by the Loom places Indigenous aesthetics and ways of knowing at the center of Navajo textile production, highlighting the localized and land-based knowledge systems that guide the process behind the finished product. Rather than reifying the object, this perspective foregrounds the active and generative practices that shape and animate this art form. Just as the Navajo language is powerfully verb-oriented, weaving metaphors are equally action-oriented, reflecting the connection between mind, body, and material inherent to the making process.

Shaped by the Loom will be the first virtual exhibition to showcase the American Museum of Natural History’s (AMNH) collection of Indigenous textiles from the greater American Southwest. Striving to bring specificity to the documentation and interpretation of AMNH’s historic collection, this innovative digital project elevates the voices of contemporary Native artists and makers to express the cultural legacy and continued vibrancy of weaving traditions in the region. By considering the dynamic opportunities and unique challenges of curating for a digital platform, Jensen provides a window into the collaborative process between students, scholars, artists, and descendent communities. Ultimately, this forward-thinking initiative strives to create a richer future for online exhibition-making to enable new forms of curatorial scholarship.

Tuesday, March 30, 12:15 pm

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This event is open to the BGC community and invited guests of the speaker. This event will be held via Zoom. A link will be circulated to registrants by 10 am on the day of the event.

Support for Shaped by the Loom: Weaving Worlds in the American Southwest has been provided by Bard Graduate Center and the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.