FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — More than 80 award-winning artists and presenters attend the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) August 5 and 6, for a weekend of cultural immersion.
The 68th annual Navajo Festival of Arts & Culture runs each day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Reaching the 68-year mark for the Navajo Festival of Arts & Culture is an incredible milestone on many levels,” said Museum Director and CEO Carrie M. Heinonen. “The festival is a place where culture, creativity and community come together, and it reflects the long-standing relationship between MNA and the Diné people.”
The festival began in August, 1949, when 15 trading posts on the western portion of the Navajo Reservation submitted 10 of their best rugs to the museum to compete for prizes. The museum’s goal was to align both weavers and traders in keeping alive the old styles of weaving and improving the quality of yarns, dyes and designs. Today, this weekend event draws thousands of visitors from across the region and around the world, and comprises of much more than traditional weavings.
The public will have the opportunity to purchase traditional and contemporary examples of silverwork, jewelry, painting, weaving, folk carving, sculpture and more directly from the artists. Artist demonstrations, musical performances and the pageantry of Navajo social dances will also be featured.
“What is unique to this festival is the rare opportunity to meet and engage with so many talented artists,” said Cristen Crujido, MNA Director of Marketing & Public Affairs. “Each of our Heritage festivals provides an in-depth look into the cultures and peoples of the Colorado Plateau and allows for inspiring exchanges between artists and visitors.”
Festival-favorites The Pollen Trail Dancers and Jones Benally Family will present authentic social and hoop dances. New to the festival this year are two musical groups: The Sweethearts of Navajo Land, performing social songs, and Blackkiss, whose music reflects the influences of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.
The Heritage Insights lecture series, presented by Arizona Humanities, will foster cross-cultural communication and understanding by presenting Diné history, personal experiences, family traditions and current issues facing the community. Series highlights include: the Painted Desert Project Parts I & II, The long Walk of the Navajo People and Boarded Up: Social and Historical Interpretation of American Indian Boarding School Era.
The festival will also feature a public viewing of the Staples Rug, a large two-faced Navajo weaving created between 1885 and 1890 at the behest of pioneering trader Juan Lorenzo Hubbell. The weaving will be on view from 12-2 p.m. at the museum’s Easton Collection Center. The viewing is included with festival admission. The Staples Rug was last exhibited at the museum in 2004.
A free member preview takes place, Friday, August 4, from 6 to 8 p.m., and includes a juried arts award ceremony, silent auction and first opportunity to purchase artwork from participating artists. Those interested in becoming members of the museum can call (928) 774.5213, ext 219.
The Museum of Northern Arizona is located three miles from historic downtown Flagstaff on scenic Highway 180 leading to the Grand Canyon.
The festival is supported by the Arizona Commission on the Arts which receives support from the State of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts, Arizona Humanities, City of Flagstaff BBB Revenues and Flagstaff Arts Council and Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery.
Ticket prices are $12 for adults and $8 for students (with ID), American Indians (10+ with tribal affiliation) and youth (10-17). Children under 10 are free. Weekend passes are $18 for adults and $12 for youth. The museum is located at 3101 N. Fort Valley Road in Flagstaff.
More information is available at musnaz.org. or (928) 774-5213.