From shearing the sheep to spinning the wool to weaving the
pattern, Navajo weaver Lola Cody spent almost two years making the
rug that won Best of Show at this year's Santa Fe Indian Market.
She said the weaving portion alone took her eight months "weaving
every day, up to 14 hours a day."
The piece measures 8 feet by 13 feet 8 inches and is a "Two
Grey Hills" pattern featuring the creams, browns and grays that
occur naturally in the Churro sheep she and her husband raise in
No Water Mesa, an area in the southwest corner of the Navajo reservation
The name of the piece, Sands of No Water Mesa, is inspired by
the landscape around her home.
"It's truly an honor to be here," Cody said Friday after learning
she had won the market's highest award. "I never expected this,
and it's been a long journey. Words can't express what I feel. Thank
you, and I thank God."
Cody said her husband "took over everything" while she was working
on the piece the past few years. "He didn't complain," she said.
"He took care of all our sheep."
Indian Market Winners
Winners in 11 main categories were as follows:
Class I: Jewelry: Gerald Lomaventema, Hopi
Class II: Pottery: Christoper Youngblood Cutler,
Santa Clara Pueblo
Class III: Paintings Drawings, Graphics and Photography:
Norma Howard, Choctaw/Chickasaw
Class IV: Wood Pueblo Figurative Carving and Sculptures:
Bryant Honyouti, Hopi
Class V: Sculpture: Marvin Oliver, Quinault
and Isleta Pueblo
Class VI: Textiles: Lola Cody, Navajo
Class VII: Diverse Arts: Donald "Babe" and
Carla Hemlock, Mohawk
Class VIII: Beadwork and Quillwork: Joyce, Jessa and
Juanita Growing Thunder, Assiniboine and Sioux
Class IX: Youth 17 and under: Alyssa Kohlmeyer,
Class X: Moving Images: Sydney Freeland, Gallup
Class XI: Basketry: Jeremy Frey, Passamaquoddy
When she began the piece last year, Cody said, her granddaughter
had just been born, and she held the tiny baby on her lap as she
"This year, she sat next to me pounding away, pretending she
was weaving," said Cody, her voice breaking.
The weaver who learned the art from her own mother and
grandmother said she hopes her granddaughter will be a weaver
one day, too.
Cody's piece also was awarded Best of Classification for the
Textiles Division and beat out 10 other works of art that were selected
as the best work in 10 other top categories, including jewelry,
pottery, beadwork and quillwork.
Southwestern Association for Indian Arts interim Chief Operating
Officer Dallin Maybee said the award-winning works were selected
from hundreds of entries submitted and judged on "technicality,
aesthetic beauty and artistic talent" by Native art experts, gallery
owners and others, including former U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse
The winning works in the top 11 classifications and dozens of
lower divisions were on display Friday at the Santa Fe Community
Other works that received recognition Friday included a large
Santa Clara-style black-on-black vase adorned with a relief featuring
five koi fish made by ninth-generation Santa Clara potter Chris
Youngblood Cutler, 24, who said he recently put his political science
studies on hold to concentrate on making pottery full time.
"To create, to get better and do to better work, I have to put
more time into making it," said Youngblood Cutler, who credits his
mother, Nancy Youngblood, with teaching him how to make pottery.
Youngblood Cutler also credited his brothers for helping him
fire the piece, which he said was "one of the scariest things" he'd
top award in the Paintings/Drawings/Graphics/Photography classification
was given to a watercolor titled Choctaw Family Under a Brush Arbor
by Norma Howard.
Howard, who is of Choctaw and Chickasaw descent, said she had
loved drawing since she was a child exploring the woods of Oklahoma,
but her mother had told her that people didn't like Indians, so
they wouldn't buy Indian art. Howard said she was 36 before she
finally picked up a paintbrush.
"Thank you, SWAIA, for giving that little bitty girl who played
in the woods a chance to be here," Howard said tearfully when she
was awarded her Best in Classification ribbon.
"My history is in my family's story and in my heart and in my
hands and in my eyes and in my paintbrush and my paper."
Best in Classification awards also were given to Jeremy Frey,
of the Passamaquoddy tribe in Maine, for a pottery-inspired basket
woven from black ash and cedar bark and Marvin Oliver, of Quinault
and Isleta Pueblo Heritage, for a glass piece titled We are Born
From the River, which was inspired by baskets used for "dip fishing"
for salmon in the Columbia River.
Oliver said 12 other artists helped him create the piece, which
took four people to lift and was dropped twice during its creation.