RISD Museum Announces Diné Textiles: Nizhónígo Hadadít’eh

Providence, RI (August 17, 2023)…The RISD Museum presents Diné Textiles: Nizhónígo Hadadít’eh, an exhibition that explores the ever changing and dynamic Diné (Navajo) apparel designs. From 19th- century mantas and wearable blankets to contemporary Diné fashion designs, the exhibition showcases 150 years of resilience and creativity. Hózhó, a Diné concept of balance, beauty, and harmony, is demonstrated throughout the exhibition of striking textile designs that feature symmetrical geometries, intricate use of light and dark color, and embody the legacy of matriarchal teaching.

Diné apparel design is constantly evolving, often in response to historical events. Diné apparel transitioned from woven wool textiles to sewn commercial fabrics after the 1868 Treaty of Bosque Redondo, which subjected Diné to US federal government rule, forced
assimilation, and American capitalism. As non-Natives began collecting Diné textiles, Diné weavers created fine art wall hangings that feature vibrant aniline dyes. Materials, references, and colors may change within Diné weaving, but the embodiment of Hózhó (balance, beauty, and harmony) remains the same.

“Diné textiles were and continue to be sources of design inspiration, as well as objects of cultural appropriation. Despite hardship, Diné resilience drives creativity forward. We honor and appreciate the generations of Diné weavers who, through hózhó, have designed beautiful garments for beautiful people.”  –Sháńdíín Brown (Diné), Henry Luce Curatorial Fellow for Native American Art

Many of the names of the weavers in this exhibition are not in the museum’s records. Despite their identities being lost to us today, these Diné women were known in their communities. Contemporary Native American artists featured include Melissa Cody (Diné), Korina Emmerich (Puyallup), TahNibaa Naataanii (Diné), Cara Romero (Chemehuevi), Gilmore Scott (Diné), and Darby Raymond-Overstreet (Diné) - the designer of the exhibition logo.