Chimayo, New Mexico Weavers and Weaving - Artistic Heritage,
Dating from the 1700s, the utilitarian craft of weaving introduced by Spanish colonial settlers has transformed into today's multi-generational enterprises combining time-established motifs with modern aesthetic and techniques. The stunning woven tapestries of award-winning artisans like Irvin Trujillo of Centinela Traditional Arts, Robert Ortega of Ortega's Weaving Shop, Trujillo's Weaving Shop and Karen Martinez and Carlos Martinez, represent the best of the weavers' art.
The woolen and cotton yarns used by Chimayo's artisans display the intense hues of the New Mexico landscape and sky, many created from natural area plant dyes. By contrast, many rugs and hangings often incorporate the restful, muted tones of brown, cream, black and ecru wool. Gathered from local heritage Churro sheep, these undyed wools are durable, beautiful and require only the loom to bring out their earthy colors.
Other Chimayosos continue the practice of carving rustic, Spanish colonial-style furniture and devotional art. Many of these artisans, whose woodcraft has been passed down from grandfather to father to son, create santos and bultos (icons of saints) and retablos (devotional paintings on wood), as striking reminders of the importance of spirituality in Chimayo's everyday life. Other artists perfect the folk art of straw applique, also called straw inlay, often exceptionally demonstrated in crosses and nativity scenes.
Modern techniques and materials have found their way into the artistic community of Chimayo, too. Many stores purvey Spanish colonial tinwork, painstakingly punched geometric, floral or religious designs in metal for mirrors, frames and light fixtures. Oviedo Carvings and Bronze, owned by Marco and Patricia Trujillo, includes a bronze foundry where the lost wax process results in magnificent, contemporary sculpture.
Of course, Chimayo honors its pre-Spanish artistic heritage. Several galleries feature local Native American art, including the jewelry, pottery and rugs of the nearby Santa Clara, Pojoaque, Zuni, Jemez, Cochiti and Ohkay Owinge Pueblos, as well as the more distant Navajo Nation and Acoma Pueblo.
Some galleries and studios offer workshops, demonstrations and tours for those curious about painting a retablo, spinning or weaving Churro wool, or photographing the picturesque landscape. Inquire at the concierge desk.
Chimayo Suggested Reading and References
- New Mexico Fiber Arts Trail, a project of the New Mexico Department of Tourism - www.nmfiberarts.org/
- "The Centinela Weavers of Chimayo" Mary Terence McKay & Lisa Trujillo
- Ortega's Weaving Shop - www.ortegasweaving.com/
- Galeria Ortega - galeriaortegainc.com/
- Oviedo Carvings and Bronze - www.oviedoart.com/
- "Across Frontiers, Hispanic Crafts of New Mexico" Dexter Cirillo
- "New Mexican Tinwork" Lane Coulter and Maurice Dixon, Jr.