In Their Element is a blanket in the Pendleton Legendary series, created from an original watercolor painting by artist Joe Toledo.
Eagle feathers and bison are sacred symbols in Native American culture. Navajo artist Joe Toledo uses these symbols in his painting, “In Their Element,” representing three elements; Earth, Air and Water. A herd of bison graze on the Earth, offering prosperity and protection. A range of mountains towers above the herd, their snowy peaks covered with life-giving Water. Standing Eagle feathers rise into the sky, joining together Earth, Water and Air, and carrying Eagle’s spirit to a place of strength above the clouds.
One of the most arresting details of this design is found in the line created by mountain peaks passing behind the white portion of the eagle feathers. Looking closely, you can see that they work continuously to create the snowy peaks of the mountain range.
The Artist, Joe Toledo
Mr. Toledo is a native of Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico. He currently lives in Tiffany, Colorado, with his wife, Ann. He enjoys working in watercolor because it is “spontaneous and unpredictable.” Mr. Toledo mixes soft rainwater with his paints, for colors that reflect the colors and images of his home landscape. His works are exhibited in collections in the United States, Canada and Europe.
According to Mr. Toledo, “…as an American Indian, the bison are symbols of cultural enrichment. There was a traditional ceremony at the killing of the buffalo, so the animal was respected. Bison represent strength, power and protection, assurance, and strength.”
Several years back, Mr. Toledo designed another blanket with us, Buffalo Roam, based on one of his works of art. His exceptional studies of buffalo are based on watching, sketching and painting a Great Northern bison that lives on his property.
The buffalo was revered by many Native American tribes. The meat gave them food. The hides provided robes for warmth, tepee covers for shelter and shields for protection. Horns were crafted into bowls and arrowheads, and fat was rendered for candles and soap. The Buffalo Roam blanket captures the power of that mighty beast of the plains. The design by Native American watercolor artist Joe Toledo puts the sacred buffalo in perspective. Looming large in close-up and appearing smaller in the distance, it was ever present in the lives of the Plains Indians. (This blanket is retired)
We very much enjoy working with Mr. Toledo, whose warmth and wit are only matched by his talent. Here is hoping there’s another blanket down the line.