Weaving winter scenes and stories
Ryan Summerlin November 5, 2013
Winter, it seems, has arrived in Park City.
Snow can be seen on the mountains, the buildings and cars.
Snow can also be seen on an array of Navajo rugs that will be featured during the annual rug show and sale that will be held at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Lodge this weekend.
The event is a fundraiser for the Adopt-a-Native Elder program, a nonprofit organization that helps provide food, basic medicines and other necessities for elders living traditionally on the Navajo reservation in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona.
Linda Myers, executive director of the Adopt-a-Native Elder program, which presents the event, said the patterns in the rugs are inspired by the theme, "Weaving Winter Stories."
The idea was presented to the elder weavers, Myers told The Park Record.
"We had a luncheon during last year’s show and we gave them categories — animals, winter sports scenes and snowflakes," she said. "I couldn’t believe my eyes when the rugs started coming in."
Weaves comprised of buffalo, elk and moose were popular among the animal category and Myers received an abundance of snowflake patterns.
"They also produced snow scenes — skiers, snowmen, sleigh riding — which are very nontraditional when it comes to Navajo rugs," Myers said. "It was very interesting to see these as they arrived, because they were made by people who live in a place where there is little snowfall."
Each year, Myers gives the weavers an idea about the next show’s theme.
"I try to think of things that they can relate to in their culture," she said. "Last year, we did scenes of the night skies and the year before that, we did a show with rugs that depicted wild horses.
"However, each year we bring the elders and their rugs to Deer Valley, and they see the snow and ski lift," Myers said. "So I suggested that they do something that represents Park City in the winter."
Myers was impressed by the artistry in these rugs.
"The theme was very challenging for them, and to see them become so creative with the weavings to do this," she said. "Some are reservation scenes with snowmen in them, and others are of mountain scenes with skiers."
Different resort brochures and postcards inspired some of the weavers, and the community inspired others.
"They took these things home and just started making these rugs, but the snowflake rugs seemed to be the most popular," Myers said. "There was one weaver who incorporated silver thread into his pattern.
"We even have one that shows condominiums," Myers said. "At first I didn’t know what they were, so I called the weaver and she told me that she has a brochure that shows the condos and that’s what she did."
Even after assigning the theme, Myers has thought of various metaphors that tied the winter scenes of snow-covered mountains and the elders together.
"The snow represents their long white hair and the mountains represent strength in their culture," she said.
In addition to raising funds for essential supplies that are needed by the elders, the rug show also serves a different purpose, Myers said.
"They continue to weave rugs to support themselves in their traditional way, but because of age, it becomes more challenging for them to sit long hours at the loom," she said. "Although they weave fewer rugs than they did in the past, they have the opportunity to sell more during the show than on their reservation."
The show and sale will kick off with a gala on Friday at 6 p.m. The night will feature a preview of the sale, hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment.
"The night will also include a silent auction, from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.," Myers said. "All the ‘Winter Stories’ rugs will be in the auction and those that don’t sell will be included in the rug show the rest of the weekend."
(See the accompanying story titled "The schedule of the 24th annual Navajo Rug Show and Sale").
In addition to the winter-themed rugs, the show and sale will feature up to 500 other rugs, as well as a large selection of jewelry and crafts, Myers said.
"All of the sales proceeds go directly to the Elders to help support them and their families through the winter months ahead," Myers said.
Adopt-a-Native Elder’s 24th annual Navajo rug show and sale will be held at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Lodge from Friday, Nov. 8, through Sunday, Nov. 10. The three-day event will kick off with a gala on Friday from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. Saturday’s and Sunday’s hours will be from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Admission on Friday is $30 for adults, $10 for children under the age of 12. Admission for Saturday and Sunday is $5 or a can of food. This year’s theme is "Weaving Winter Stories." For more information, please visit www.anelder.org or call (435) 649-0535.
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