Artist Profile: CENTER OF CREATION by Deborah Jojola

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Deborah Jojola is the artist behind “Center of Creation,” the 2018 addition to the Pendleton Legendary series of blankets. An Isleta Pueblo and Jemez Pueblo Native American, Ms. Jojola is an expert in a variety of media, including painting, frescos, printmaking, ceramics, and bookmaking.

Her work is influenced by Surrealism, popular culture, Native culture, and her own personal experiences. She has received many prestigious awards, and is self-taught in her ongoing study of fresco, as part of her mission to bring back the lost art of Isleta Pueblo frescoes.

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Said Jojola of Islaeta traditions, “There was a pottery tradition, but it died out. There are contemporary artists that do the contemporary pottery, but it is only taught to family members. I see none in the collections of the many museums I visit. Basket weavers made willow baskets, but that medium is lost, too, no one weaves.” When Ms. Jojola was commissioned to produce a floor mural, she took it upon herself to research traditional designs on pots, kiva walls, and baskets. Her research led her to identify five key Isleta elements:

  1. Flower
  2. Seed pod
  3. Wind and clouds
  4. Lightning/spirit arrow
  5. Seeds flying in the air/circle and dots, also used in body painting by dancers.

These five elements were associated with the nearly vanished pottery tradition. Ms. Jojola used them on the mural, then turned to the art of the fresco, revitalizing the process with these ancient Isleta designs.

To make a fresco, the artist starts with earthen plaster that she screens and cleans. She gets her earth from a nicely cultivated field in Pueblo Jemez. This has been an agricultural area for many thousands of years, and it’s been carefully tended and enriched to stay fertile, so the earth is super fine.

She mixes the earth with a secret ingredient recommended by her mother, a binder that combines the earthen plaster and binds it to the surface that she’s going to plaster. She always uses distilled water to keep her colors clear of chemical contamination.

A framed panel is covered with burlap, which she then covers with the earthen plaster. There also a fiber involved in the fresco; the panel’s wood has been milled, but the burlap has a “tooth” that the plaster adheres to.

She also incorporates mixed media into some of her work; for instance, “Center of Creation” used a lithographed paper border along the bottom. She works with diptychs (two-panels) for ease of transport.

“Center of Creation” is adapted from the first fresco to be entered in the Santa Fe Indian Market.

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Here is the artist’s full explanation of the story told by this very special piece.

It takes two to marry and create life—the diptych is symbolic of that, because it’s two pieces. The cloud is picking up the seed and carrying it around, shown in the movement of the arrows from the earth. This is part of the growth of life, the flower-like passive movement of growing and moving.

The bottom border in the original piece that’s black on white, is actually a lithograph print done on Japanese paper, a contemporary piece. It’s placed directly above an earthen brown border. Old homes on the Pueblo have an earthen border, but it means more than that. We are Earth people. We are born from our Mother. The darkness is Mother Earth.

The two panels of the diptych do not quite touch. This is the center, the lifeline. For potters, the space where things don’t touch is the lifeline. This is the space for the breath that we all need to live. We were always here, and Creator gave us the original instructions on how to care for the earth and all its beings. The arrows symbolize sovereignty, instructions, and purpose to carry on the traditions of spiritual balance.

At the top of the design is the symbolic presence of wind, supported by the curvilinear spiral of life. Life is a spiral, and we have purpose in this life, and beyond this life.

Ms. Jojola is a fascinating person whose years as an artist and educator have involved her in so many artistic and curatorial projects. If you can hear her speak, make the time to listen. She has over 30 years of experience teaching, with time as an instructor at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, the Institute of American Indian Art, the Very Special Art of New Mexico, and OFF Center Community Arts, the East West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, and the Tamarind Institute. Ms. Jojola coordinated a Printmaking Exchange with Institute of American Indian Arts, Crow’s Shadows Institute in Pendleton, Oregon, USA and University of Sidney, Australia.

More information on her career and work can be found here:

Deborah Jojola 

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See the blanket here: Center of Creation

And it’s also a beautiful mug! Center of Creation mug

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The Weavers Series by Pendleton

Collections and Series Blankets

If you collect Pendleton blankets, you are probably aware of our blanket series releases. From the College Fund blankets to the Legendary Collection to the Heritage Collection, we seek out designs that tell a story, both as individual blankets and as grouped collections. Heritage blankets are recreations from our archives. Legendary blankets often showcase designs by contemporary Native American artists. And in the past, we have had the Mill Tribute Series and the Vintage Blanket collection (both retired).

Weavers Series Blankets

The Pendleton Weavers Series is a unique new group of collectible blankets based on weavings by contemporary Native American fiber artists. The original weavings are found in markets or trading posts in the American Southwest by our design team, which selects beautiful examples of handwoven art to translate into Pendleton blankets. The weavers have been excited by this opportunity, which celebrates the tremendous talent, skill and creativity of Native American artists. The series will continue in 2019.

Roselyn Begay

Roselyn Begay

The inspiration for this series came from an original work by Roselyn Begay, a Navajo/Dine weaver who lives near Chinle, Arizona. She has been weaving for over fifty years. Her work is available at trading posts and markets in Sedona, Teec Nos Pos, and Ganado. Some of her earliest memories are of watching her mother at the loom. At age five, her mother began teaching Roselyn the art of Navajo weaving.

It began as a 12 x 12 inch table piece, but this design made a gorgeous blanket with unique and subtle colors. It was featured in a VOGUE magazine fashion editorial in 2017.

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Mary Henderson

Mary Henderson is a Navajo weaver from Sanostee, New Mexico. Mary has spent 43 years weaving with her mother, aunt, sister-in-law and cousin-sister, teaching and inspiring each other as they work. Her original weavings can be found at the Toadlena Trading Post in New Mexico. She is proud to carry on the traditions of her mother and grandmother, who taught Mary to weave when she was twelve years old.

Mary Henderson

Black and white blankets are some of Pendleton’s strongest and most popular designs. They are faithful to their traditional design roots while looking sophisticated in modern decor settings.

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See the Weavers Blankets here: Pendleton Weavers Series

All blankets shown are woven and manufactured in the USA.

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Wild and Scenic Rivers Part Two with Greg Hatten and Pendleton

We continue our series with Greg Hatten’s Woodenboat adventures on rivers protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers act. In this installment, Greg’s team approaches the run of a lifetime. 

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Frank Church Wilderness

In June I took my wooden boat down the River of No Return in the Frank Church Wilderness of Idaho. The Middle Fork of the Salmon was one of the original eight rivers inducted into the Wild and Scenic program and the bill was written and championed by Senator Frank Church of Idaho. This trip was special for so many reasons – mostly, because I got to row it alongside some of the best guides and woodenboat river runners on the planet…the Helfrich crew.

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The degree of difficulty of rowing this river in a fragile wooden boat was at the high-end of anything I had ever rowed. From the very first oar-stroke, the extreme gradient drop and rocky rapids provided non-stop rowing action the entire first day. For the five mile start through Sulpher Slide, Hell’s Half Mile and the Class IV Velvet Falls, I had just enough time to catch my breath between rapids and cast an occasional glance around at the beauty and rawness of the river wilderness and steep canyon walls we threaded our boats through.

The absence of dams on this river gives us a truly wild river to run – where the river level and conditions are dictated by the weather, the snow melt, the vertical drop, and the rock slides which change sometimes every year. Nothing controlled or contrived about the Middle Fork – it is in it’s natural state – rugged and raw and almost “untouched” by a human hand.

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Greg Hatten guest post – Buell Blankets and the St. Joseph Museum

Today’s post is from our friend Greg Hatten, of WoodenBoat adventure fame. Greg has always been interested in our Buell blankets (all retired, but one is still available), which were part of our Mill Tribute Series. Greg decided to find out some information on the original Buell blankets at the source; his hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri. Enjoy this visit, and if you’re interested in our Mill Tribute series blankets, links to our previous posts are below.

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Buell Blankets Headed West

St. Joseph, Missouri is my hometown. It’s a dreamy little river town that started out as a trading post on the banks of the Missouri and quickly became a launching pad for pioneers headed west to Oregon and California in the mid 1800’s. Some historians estimate that 250,000 settlers made the trek by wagon and on foot between 1850 and 1900. Most of those trips started in St. Joseph or Independence – where final provisions for the 5 month journey were acquired before embarking on the grand westward adventure that started by crossing the Midwestern prairie. Many were leaving for the rest of their lives.

Provisions and Provender

Wool blankets were on the provisions list of every trip – for sleeping and trading with Native Americans along the way. In St. Joseph, the Buell Woolen Mill was the primary source for blankets headed west. Known for quality over quantity, the blankets were strikingly colorful and many designs were based on patterns used by different Native tribes in paintings and beadwork out west. They were prized by the pioneers and Native Americans alike.

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As stated in the 1910 Buell Catalog:

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A storied pattern – Tucson

One of our new robe-size blankets for 2018 is the Tucson blanket. We especially love how the red version came off the loom.

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The Tucson area was originally home to the Akimel O’odham people, who simply call themselves O’odham, which means ‘The People.” Their creation story inspired this pattern. We have a short version on the hangtag, but the longer version is really quite beautiful.

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Pendleton Patriotic Blankets for 2018

As an American company with strong roots in the West, Pendleton Woolen Mills weaves blankets with  meaning and beauty. Every blanket tells a story, and we have woven many blankets that celebrate American patriotism over the years, from the Grateful Nation  blanket that celebrates the contributions of our veterans, to retired blankets like Code Talker,  Chief Eagle and Home of the Brave. Here are some beautiful blankets to help us remember our patriotic spirit this Independence Day. To see more information on the blankets below, click the blanket name, which will take you right to the website.

Bighorn

 

Bighorn

In 1825, the Bighorn River called famed mountain man Jim Bridger to build a raft of driftwood and ride it through the foaming rapids. Part of the river was dammed to create Bighorn Lake, but the spectacular canyon it carved remains, named for the Bighorn sheep that travel its rocky, treacherous paths. Located in Montana and Wyoming, about one third of the park unit is located on the Crow Indian Reservation. One quarter of the Pryor Mountains Wild Horse Range lies within the Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area.

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Pendleton’s Cotton Quilts & Blankets for Warmer Weather

Cotton_Quilts_NewSpring is on the way, and Pendleton’s cotton quilts and blankets are a beautiful way to make a home ready for the warmer days ahead.

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This year’s runaway favorite blanket is now a cotton quilt set. Shifting dunes of shining white crystal rise from the Tularosa Basin at New Mexico’s White Sands   National Monument. Erosion from the surrounding mountains constantly replenishes the world’s largest gypsum dunefield, encompassing 275 square miles. During the day, the dunes shine white against the blue sky. At sunset, the sands glow with vibrant hues of twilight, while desert flora—yucca, cholla, rice grass and more – reach toward the last rays of the setting sun.

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