July 25, 2014 Taos, New Mexico

The Harwood Museum of Art

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Saturday, June 26 - Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sandpainting in Wool

Gallery: Peter & Madeleine Martin Gallery

Sandpainting has long been utilized by various cultures as a means of accessing divine healing powers. These are often temporary, ritual paintings prepared for religious or healing ceremonies. In the United States the Native Americans in the Southwest are the primary practitioners (the most famous of which are the Navajo). The Navajo term for sandpainting is iikaah, "place where the gods come and go." The intended result is a balanced, harmonious and healthy relationship with the Holy People.


In 1896, the first sandpainting rug was woven in Chaco Canyon. There is no doubt that woven sandpaintings are a cultural anomaly. The reproduction of sandpaintings as woven textiles is at odds with the intent of actual sandpaintings. A strong cultural tension is a natural outcropping of translating sacred symbols and mythology, used as a living practice, into a dimensional work often used for commercial purposes. Sandpainting weavings, however, are not, nor have they ever been, a part of Navajo ceremonies. Although sandpainting textiles are reproductions from the Navajo ceremonial Chantways (also commonly referred to as Chants or Sings), they are not intended to be used for sacred purposes.

This Harwood exhibition, examines the unique tradition of Navajo Sandpainting Weavings. Click here for more information.

The Harwood's summer 2010 exhibitions are generously supported by Albertsons, John E. Armstrong, Chef Currey Cooks, DeTeves Publishing Company, Carol and David Farmer, Harwood Museum Alliance, New Mexico Tourism Department, R.B. Ravens Gallery, the Town of Taos, and anonymous donors.