ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Reviving the art of Pueblo weaving connects weaver Louie García with his ancestors while keeping him grounded in the present.
“We are continuing the tradition of an art form that was almost lost,” he says from his home workshop in the South Valley. “But the meaning is deeper than that. Every step of the process is an aspect of spirituality. Part of our being is built into to every piece that we weave. All of our prayers go with it.”
García, Tiwa-Piro Pueblo, will join a dozen other Pueblo weavers for the Second Annual Pueblo Fiber Arts Guild Show and Sale Saturday.
The show will feature sashes, belts and kilts woven with traditional methods as well as decorative items with commercial and traditional fibers. Many artists also will have work in other media, such as pottery or jewelry, available for sale, he says. Buffalo dances are scheduled for the show, he says.
When García weaves, the gentle rhythm of the loom is peaceful and calming, he says. “It’s not just going through the motions. I go into another space with my thoughts and prayers. We ask the spirits to bless us.”
García learned the basics of weaving as well as other life skills and cultural Pueblo traditions from his grandfather, Louis Jurado.
Like his grandfather, who was an Albuquerque Fire Department chief, García, married and a father of two girls, also has a career along with his weaving. He’s a bilingual teacher at a nearby middle school.
“Traditionally in Pueblo culture men were the only weavers and they traditionally wove in the kiva,” he says.
Evidence of Pueblo weaving is found as early as the 900s. As the railroad brought commercial textiles to the Southwest in the early 1900s, much of the Pueblo weaving tradition began to fade away, García says.
“Kilts were often made from flour sacks,” he says.
A ceremonial sash with a brocade weaving of the familiar colors of green, red and black into the white cotton cloth is stretched on his vertical loom that stands from the floor to the ceiling.
Red represents water, green, plants and black, the Earth, he says.
Historically the poles of the loom would have hung from loops in the ceiling and would have been anchored under a dirt floor, he says.
Although he uses commercial yarns, he also spins thread from cotton he grows in his backyard from heritage seeds, the resulting fabric softer and smoother than items woven with the commercial yarn.
“Cotton represents the clouds,” he says. Cotton fabric most often remains white and is often treated with kaolin clay to make it whiter and stain resistant.