Shaped by the Loom: Weaving Worlds in the American Southwest

This landmark exhibition of the American Museum of Natural History’s collection of Navajo textiles will be displayed alongside works by contemporary Diné/Navajo artists and cultural practitioners.

Available Four venues for up to six months

Exhibition Images

  • Eye-dazzler Blanket

    “Eye-dazzler” Blanket
    Unidentified Diné/Navajo Artist (AMNH Collection)
    Wool, cotton; tapestry weave
    Late 19th century
    56 3/4" x 39 3/4"

    This will be among the historic textiles from the American Museum of Natural History-North American Ethnographic Collection, purchased by U.S. Hollister and donated to the Museum in 1911, that will be shown in the exhibition.

  • Rapheal Begay Diné Window Rock

    Rapheal Begay (Diné), Window Rock (Window Rock, AZ), from "A Vernacular Response" series, 2018. Digital photograph. Courtesy of the artist.

  • Darby Raymond-Overstreet Diné Woven Landscape

    Darby Raymond-Overstreet (Diné), Woven Landscape, Window Rock, February 2022. Scanned Navajo textiles, archival print on paper. One in a series of four digital prints, commissioned for Shaped by the Loom exhibition. Courtesy of the artist.

About the Exhibition

Shaped by the Loom: Weaving Worlds in the American Southwest, opening at Bard Graduate Center (BGC) Gallery, will be the first exhibition to showcase the American Museum of Natural History’s collection of Indigenous textiles from the American Southwest. Approximately 20 items from this historic collection, acquired more than a century ago, will be shown alongside contemporary works by master weavers and visual artists. Shaped by the Loom, curated by Dr. Hadley Jensen (BGC PhD ’18) and advised by Diné cultural consultants and fifth-generation weavers Lynda Teller Pete and Barbara Teller Ornelas, will be on view at BGC from February 17 – July 9, 2023. Throughout the run of the exhibition, Navajo weavers, loom and toolmakers, natural dye experts, and multimedia artists will travel from the Southwest to lead workshops, artist demonstrations, and hands-on activities that provide cultural context and lived experience for the items on view.

Shaped by the Loom places Indigenous aesthetics at the center of Navajo textile production, highlighting six themes central to the weaver’s perspective: homeland and cosmology; ecology; dyeing and coloring; knowledge and process; design elements; and finally, value and exchange.

In addition to textiles, the exhibition will display:

• 20 textiles and related items from AMNH’s collection
• Tools and materials (dye and fiber samples) used in the weaving process
• Approximately 12 contemporary works, with 6-8 contemporary photographs
• 4 digital prints (commissioned for the exhibition)
• 360-degree image projection featuring landscapes of the Navajo Nation (with an accompanying soundscape by Diné composer & pianist Connor Chee)
• Shaped by the Loom offers free digital exhibition resources, including a K-12 educator’s guide
• Optional printed brochure/gallery guide, cost covered by each venue

Our digital publication will be the first online catalogue of the AMNH’s collection, providing free and accessible research content to the broadest possible audience of artists, educators, and scholars. Visitors will also encounter stunning panoramic views of the Navajo Nation, presented for the first time with 360-degree imaging.


  • Organizer

    Bard Graduate Center

  • Loan Duration

    Four venues for up to six months

  • Space Requirements

    1,700 square feet (approximate)

  • Special Requirements:

    Environmental requirements for Shaped by the Loom are 68-72F temperature and 40-55% RH with no more than 10% fluctuation in a 24 hrs period. Light levels are 5 fc.

  • American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) approval of the facility is needed.

  • A courier designated by AMNH will travel for the exhibition's installation and de-installation - these associated costs will be included in shared costs.

  • Some Plexi bonnets and slant boards will travel with the exhibition. These will be included in the shared costs.

  • However, depending on the facility and layout, additional Plexi bonnets and slant boards may be required.

Availability & Touring