Source: The Taos News
Date: July 2, 1987
Brown Shows Woven Art
By Jean Nathan
Some say timing is everything, and Rachel Brown has it.
Brown has just realized a 10-year old dream to have a place where weavings would be displayed in a gallery setting as works of art in their own right.
Last month, she opened “Weaving-Southwest” a gallery next to her weaving supply shop on Paseo Sur. The response, she says, has been overwhelming.
The world may be ready to see tapestry and wall-hangings as something other than a cover for a blemish on a wall.
Aside from her mission to equate tapestries with art, Brown says a renaissance in Southwest tapestries is taking place.
More and more Hispanic weavers are reviving the weaving tradition of their parents and grandparents, creating entirely new motifs. Navajos and other Native American weavers are producing new and different designs, Anglo weavers continue to be influenced by this Southwestern tapestry tradition, and with their new approach to design and color are, in turn, influencing the more traditional weavers.
Brown says cross-cultural influences in weaving techniques and designs in the Southwest have played a role for more than two centuries.
Brown, who came to Taos 30 years ago, the same year she began weaving, is considered by many to be the weaving expert. Her Weaving, Spinning, and Dyeing Book is a bible for weavers all over the country.
As a reigning expert, Brown explains tapestries in the Southwest are a separate and different technique from the European tapestry tradition where a design from a drawing or painting is created and then the tapestry is simply executed.
In the Southwest, Brown says, tapestry has always been an art form in itself, with the discipline of the weaving itself dictating design and form. Most weavers in this area, she said, dye their own yarns, and many hand-spin the yarns from the raw fleece shorn from the sheep of their own flocks.
Connie Taylor is a local weaver who does all the wool work herself. Taylor’s work includes abstract designs and pictorial tapestries, many of them with a strong political twist.
Her “Northern New Mexico Packaged for Sale” is a strong design created from handspun wool from her own flocks, with a black and white price code woven in the bottom corner.
Kristina Wilson’s works are brilliantly colorful animals and other creatures poised in whimsical stances.
Irvin and Lisa Trujillo of the Centinela Ranch in Chimayo, some of the most well-known weavers in the Rio Grande tradition, both have interesting works in the gallery. Lisa Trujillo’s Saltillo design is dazzling. She is the only contemporary weaver working in this technique.
Weaving-Southwest, representing 40 New Mexico weavers, also sell rugs and apparel, but the emphasis is strongly on the tapestries.