Saturday, December 15, 2012

Glorious Weavings of Irvin and Lisa Trujillo

Buscando la Malinche by Irvin Trujillo
permanent collection of the Smithsonian

Irvin and Lisa Trujillo are impressive weavers who have kept the Rio Grande weaving tradition alive as well as combining traditional Chimayo weaving design with very contemporary and unique motifs and designs all their own. Irvin is an National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow. Both Irv and Lisa have received numerous awards for their weavings. Irv just received Best of Show at the most recent Spanish Market in Santa Fe.

Irv and Lisa at Spanish Market

We were excited to interview Irv at their magnificent store and studio in Chimayo called Centinela Traditional Arts where they showcase not only their own work but also promote the work of other Chimayo weavers. The store is an absolute color lovers dream and the craftsmanship in their weavings is awesome. They are both smart, articulate, talented and down to earth people who are so enjoyable to be around.

 Fran Hardy interviewing Irvin at Centinela Traditional Arts for our New Mexico documentary

Centinela Traditional Arts is in Chimayo, New Mexico and I recommend a visit if you are in our state.
Irv is a seventh generation Chimayo weaver. His family was weaving back in the 1720s and Irv's father passed the tradition on to Irv who is passionate about weaving. He passed that tradition on to his wife, Lisa whose work also shows consummate craftsmanship and innovative design.

Irv at the loom

Grapes and Lime by Lisa Trujillo shows her bold and unique use of innovative color and design.

This weaving and the ones that will follow are going to be in our exhibition January 14-February 14 at New Mexico Highlands University at Burris Hall. Come to the reception January 31st from 5-7pm and you will be able to view our documentary in progress at 7pm at Ilfeld Auditorium.
We will also be having an exhibition of the artists interviewed in our documentary at the Santa Fe Art Institute for the month of April 2013.  

Gold Circle by Irvin Trujillo
It is hard to see the metallic thread that is utilized in this piece which gives it a gorgeous luminosity.

Lisa is known for her fine spinning of wool and Irvin for his remarkable dye work using both natural and commercial dyes. We shot Irv dying with local chamisa he gathers in their fields and indigo he orders on a fall day. He was also combining the two to create a variety of tones and hues.

Emergence by Irvin Trujillo

Indigo Chimayo by Irvin Trujillo, a piece done in the Chimayo traditional style

Perception II by Irvin Trujillo shows his innovative contemporary designs

The five thousand or so churro sheep that came to New Mexico with Coronado's expedtion in 1540 were too valued as food to these original settlers to survive and become established flocks in the new territories. New Mexico proved to be a hospitable place for churro, and the sheep thrived to become an important part of the Spanish colony's economy. Wool in an unprocessed form would be too difficult to transport (other than on the backs of sheep) to be of value as a trade item. Blankets, however, were in great demand by surrounding trading partners, and by 1840, records show tens of thousands of weavings traded out of New Mexico. Of course, they were used in New Mexico, to ward off the cold of mountain nights, and, in early years, as a wearing blanket. Domestic use as well as those for commerce caused a substantial industry to develop, employing sheepherders, spinners and weavers.
Although there was a variety of woven goods produced as part of this trade, the single item in greatest demand was what came to be called the Rio Grande blanket, a general term encompassing the entire weaving tradition of Hispanic New Mexico. More specifically, it describes a weft-faced, striped blanket, longer than wide. They are woven on a European floor loom with the weaver standing at the loom, his weight on the pedals serving to open a path for the shuttle. Before the industrial revolution brought metal reeds (the comb part of the loom) to New Mexico, handmade reeds limited the width of the looms to roughly 30 inches. A suitable blanket width was achieved by a double weave using four harnesses, essentially weaving a folded blanket leaving a telltale center ridge; or two pieces sewn together with a center seam.
The Saltillo serape employs the two-pieces-seamed approach. These incredibly fine and detailed tapestries were produced under the auspices of the wealthiest landedhacenderos in Mexico. As these weavings became a source of great national pride in Mexico, weavers here in New Mexico emulated their southern counterparts. What was woven here is much coarser, but follows the style of a bordered rectangle with a serrate diamond in the center. Rio Grande Saltillos demonstrate great variety in design, seldom adhering to any formula. The Mexican Saltillo is the likely source of the use of tapestry in Rio Grande weaving tradition, which resulted in the inclusion of Saltillo-type elements introduced between stripes becoming a distinctive style in Rio Grande blankets.
The first style that actually develops here in New Mexico is a form evolved from the Saltillo. It adds an eight-pointed star element to the Saltillo's vertical border and central diamond. This becomes a distinct style called Vallero. This development takes place in the mid-nineteenth century, as Americans first come to the area. The star may have been copied from American quilts, or perhaps derived from old Moorish architectural elements. Vallero weaving evidenced the impact of the industrial revolution, as commercial Germantown yarns and synthetic aniline dyes were adopted by local weavers. As a result of the availability of brighter colors, Valleros are typically very vivid, unlike the more sedate colors produced by natural dyes used earlier.
Other changes began to make their way to New Mexico as well. New breeds of sheep were introduced that were more productive meat and wool producers. Their wool, however, was difficult to spin resulting in a somewhat lumpy effect. Milled lumber made looms less bulky and metal reeds made a wider loom possible. In 1880, the railroad brought cotton "string" warp and commercially spun wool, making spinning unnecessary, but the finished piece was less durable with a cotton warp. Most threatening for the Rio Grande weavers was the train's cargo of mill-woven blankets, making their cottage industry largely obsolete.
Of course weavers still wove. They wove to produce blankets for their family, as Irvin Trujillo's grandparents did. Before long curio dealers in Santa Fe put their skills to use and a new industry developed, weaving the Chimayo style. Begun in the early years of this century, this style is basically two stripes and a center design. The stripes are clearly derived from the Rio Grande blanket, and the center design is an outgrowth of Saltillo tapestry techniques. Along with a uniform texture obtained by the use of commercial yarn obtained from a standard source, the style becomes distinct, recognizable. A commercial wool warp replaces the inferior cotton warp. Sizes in the industry become standardized and over the years new products develop.

Tapestry is a form of textile art, traditionally woven on a vertical loom. However, it can also be woven on a floor loom as well. It is composed of two sets of interlaced threads, those running parallel to the length (called the warp) and those parallel to the width (called the weft); the warp threads are set up under tension on a loom, and the weft thread is passed back and forth across part or all of the warps. Tapestry is weft-faced weaving, in which all the warp threads are hidden in the completed work, unlike cloth weaving where both the warp and the weft threads may be visible. In tapestry weaving, weft yarns are typically discontinuous; the artisan interlaces each coloured weft back and forth in its own small pattern area. It is a plain weft-faced weave having weft threads of different colours worked over portions of the warp to form the design.[1][2]
Most weavers use a naturally based warp thread such as linen or cotton. The weft threads are usually wool or cotton, but may include silkgold,silver, or other alternatives.
For the latest on events at the Santa Fe Art Institute.
For the latest on events at the Burris Hall gallery on the campus of New Mexico Highlands University.
New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU) is a public university located in Las VegasNew Mexico.
Located in Las Vegas, a city with a population of about 16,000, Highlands’ main campus is close to recreational and wilderness areas, and within an hour's drive of Santa Fe and 2 hours from Albuquerque.

1 comment:

  1. Irvin and Lisa are indeed amazing people! I would love to see your documentary.