TSAILE, Ariz. — Diné College’s Navajo Cultural Arts Program, which is funded through a private grant, often teams up with its sister grantees to create collaborative learning environments for emerging artisans.
Such was the case recently when NCAP’s sister grantee, the Heard Museum of Phoenix, hosted a Master Artisan Workshop. During the week-long event, NCAP Weavers Mazie Willie, Tamerra Martin and Sue Begay were invited to learn from Master Navajo Weavers Barbara Teller-Ornales and Lynda Teller-Pete in the areas of carding, spinning, dyeing, warping and weaving.
“The annual workshop was coordinated by the Heard Museum,” explained Crystal Littleben, the NCAP Project Coordinator as well as the event’s chaperone.
Littleben, who recently rejoined NCAP after her 2017-2018 Miss Navajo Nation reign, was also a participant in this year’s Heard Weaving Workshop
“The students are able to use their weavings for class requirements and may submit them to the upcoming NCAP Exhibit Week,” Littleben said.
The NCAP exhibit is a juried show that will take place the third week of April 2019.
“There were a total of 20 people who participated in this Navajo Weaving Workshop,” Littleben said. “The workshop requires an application process where the participants have to get accepted. The NCAP participants were fortunate enough to get invited.”
Martin and Willie are in the current 2018-2019 cohort, pursuing a Navajo Cultural Arts certificate at Diné College with an emphasis in Navajo weaving.
Begay is a 2016-2017 NCAP alumnus who enjoyed the workshop so much last year, she applied and attended this year’s workshop, too. Each day the trio returned to their hotel rooms exhausted from their weaving adventures.
“I really liked how the ladies were pushing weaving onto the people, especially us Navajos,” she said. “They have modern techniques and new rug designs. My mother was a weaver, but I didn’t see her do any of these techniques. It was good to learn something new. The people who attended the workshop had good input about weaving as well.”
Littleben said that attending such workshops is an integral part of the students’ learning process to better their skills. Participants receive exposure to various Navajo weavers, building upon the base that has been established in their first semester of weaving under the mentorship of Ilene Naegle, who is also a 2015-2016 NCAP alumnus.
The Heard Museum is a private, not-for-profit institution dedicated to the advancement of American Indian art.
In addition to weaving and silversmithing, basket-making and moccasin-making are also offered in the Navajo Cultural Arts certificate-based program.
Information provided by Diné College
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