This exhibition features southwestern textiles created during the nineteenth century – a time of tremendous change as American occupation and the eventual coming of the railroad and trading posts influenced commerce and the exchange of ideas among various residents of territorial New Mexico and Arizona. During this period, three great weaving traditions flourished in the distinctive landscapes of the American Southwest – Pueblo, Diné (Navajo), and Hispanic. Weavers from all three groups produced exceptional works of art, influencing one another while developing their own characteristic styles.
The exhibition presents extraordinary textiles from the Durango Collection®, highly regarded for the quality of its works from the Southwest. Notable Diné (Navajo) works on display include magnificent early examples of the famous First and Second Phase “chief’s blankets.” The oldest textile in the exhibition, dating to 1800, is a Hispanic serape showing the full-blown eye-dazzler patterning that later served as a source of inspiration for Diné (Navajo) weavers.
Treasured Textiles from the American Southwest: The Durango Collection® has been adapted by the Fowler Museum and the Museum at the Center of Southwest Studies from the exhibition Masterpieces of the Durango Collection®: Native Blankets from the Early American Southwest, developed by the Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado, in partnership with the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Support for the exhibition is provided by the Donald B. Cordry Memorial Fund at the Fowler Museum, the Estate of Caroline D. West, and the Fowler Museum Textile Council. Additional support comes from Carolyn and Charles Knobler, Michael Rohde, Dena Marienthal, and the Antique Tribal Arts Dealers Association (ATADA) Foundation.
Third Phase Chief Blanket. Navajo, (Detail) circa 1875. Weft faced plain weave, handspun wool in natural colors with indigo blue, raveled red trade cloth or bayeta, and commercial wool yarn. The Durango Collection, Center of Southwest Studies, Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado. SWT-42