|Miniature Fracking Blanket, 2019 hand-stitched cotton thread on linen, 6" x 6"|
"We are letting the extractive energy industries turn the world inside out." - Josh Fox
Although Miniature Fracking Blanket is a precursor to my work-in-progress series about fracking in Weld County, Colorado, it is mainly a stand-alone piece directly inspired by a woven Navajo blanket that was in my mother's family and that was recently sold (shown below). The story about who in the family purchased it - her father or grandfather - and in what year, got lost when she died. Her notes describe it as a Chief Blanket (third phase) 64”x 55”.
I thought about how the blanket ended up in my family. In doing some research I discovered a book titled Swept Under the Rug: a Hidden History of Navajo Weaving, by Kathy M’Closkey which explains the history of Navaho textiles in the context of colonization and economic exploitation. It includes an analysis of trader archives revealing that nearly all Navajo textiles were wholesaled by weight until the 1960s. M'Closkey explains how the Navaho artist’s weaving is "marginalized when the work is treated as a collectible craft and culture is split from commodity."
Miniature Fracking Blanket is a small piece, 6” x 6”, stitched in the mosaic style on a hoop. I wanted to create something in homage to the weaving’s beauty as textile art while at the same time acknowledging its context in the dominant culture. I replaced the central image in the blanket with a fracking/drilling rig to reference what is 'sacred' in a capitalist system that exploits the earth's resources for money. I chose this image in particular because the area that my mother's family is from, and where I grew up, is currently being subjected to extreme gas and oil extraction.
I found this paragraph on a webpage of the Art Institute Chicago:
The Navajo believe that the deity Spider woman taught women how to weave and continues to work through today's artists by directing the growth and beauty of each textile they make. Finished blankets are thought to have life forces of their own, radiating a sense of vitality and harmony essential to the Navajo philosophy of hozho in which every individual strives to live in balance with the world.