Emily's Exhibit: "Generations of Imagination: What Lies Behind the Vision of Chimayo Weavers"
Emily Trujillo·November 15, 2023
In February while I was busy teaching the Ariat Rio Grande Weaving Apprenticeship, I received an email from the curator of the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts offering me the opportunity to create my own museum exhibit. At first I was very confused as to what she meant, but then realized what she was offering. I graciously accepted her offer, and together we began working on the exhibit that was soon to be titled "Generations of Imagination: What Lies Behind the Vision of Chimayo Weavers." At first, I believe there was to be a focuses more on my work. However, because I'm a traditional working Chimayo weaver, I primarily weave small pieces for the gallery to make my living. I've only woven four show pieces I'd confidently put in a Museum, and one of them lives in Japan.
However, I didn't want to waste such a gracious opportunity, so I immediately went to brainstorming. It didn't take me long to come up with something more characteristic of what my work aims to do, which is educate the world about my people's weaving tradition.
I presented my plan to Jana Gottshalk, who is the woman who wanted to work with me. I proposed an educational exhibit showcasing my multi-generational family's work. This would involve talking about each of the members, showcasing the difference in our designs, and a little about the history that contributes to the shift. I decided that we would each pick a piece from each of the five styles I would talk about: The Rio Grande, the Saltillo, the Vallero, the Chimayo, and Modern. Along with each of these styles, it would write a little bit about the the styles in the name of education. I had access to my great grandparents, Grandpa Jake, parents Irvin and Lisa Trujillo, and my own pieces. We gathered from our family's private collection, ones for sale at Centinela Traditional Arts, and from private collectors. Unfortunately, my great Grandparent's weaving was too delicate to put on display, so it was down to three generations: the Six through the eighth.
Within the exhibit, they are organized by style so a visitor can observe the difference in each artist's designs side by side. There's a section specifically for wedding blankets and a small section about the tradition. There's also display cases with tools we used, my teaching materials, and some skeins and the dyes used.
I wasn't surprised by this fact, but I found that it was a lot of work. Jana and I had frequent Zoom meetings to discuss the next step and what each of our goals would be until the next meeting. I wrote the title cards and information that would be posted throughout, oversaw the weaving selection process, as well as helped with the layout of the exhibit itself.
I would be lying if I said I felt like I worked the hardest out of the entire crew, despite getting the most credit. I may have put a lot of work into keeping up with deadlines on top of teaching classes, lecturing, weaving, and working at the gallery; but there was a whole crew of people behind it, as there was much work that had to be done.
Originally, the exhibit was only scheduled to be displayed until the end of the year, but eventually the project got extended to April 1st as the finish line fast approached.
Much to my relief, the exhibit was well-received, at least during my visit on opening night. It was quite an experience, leading people around the museum and telling them everything about the history, my family, and my art. I'm still not used to being in any sort of spotlight, so I just focused on telling people what I know, that felt relevant to the situation, and tried to stay calm. People listened intently, and it really meant something to me to see that many people that care. I wish I could have thanked everyone who came, but I hardly got an opportunity to process what was happening until the end of the night. I didn't even get to take a single photo. All the photos here were quick shots taken by mother in law who came out to see it opening night. I really hope that people continue to enjoy it and become interested in learning more!
Forr more information about it and about the Museum, go to https://www.spanishcolonial.org/