The spider's skill spins in their soul
WEAVING may be an old yarn in this valley village that goes back almost three centuries, but the Jacob Trujillo family is threading some new twists into the tradition. Jacob (Jake) Trujillo, dad and senior weaver, has been handy at the loom ever since his teen-age days. In the mid-'20s, he peddled his wares to tourists whose Model-Ts bumped along a dried-up arroyo, Chimay'o's makeshift highway of the time. Back then, Jake stayed mainly with a standard weaving pattern - the ``Rio Grande,'' earmarked by its horizontal stripes.Skip to next paragraph
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Today, Jake and family are still grounded in tradition, but they're also taking their weavings down some avant-garde avenues. Maybe that's because son, Irvin, a civil engineer, is home to stay. And with him is his wife, Lisa, a non-Hispanic who adds her own flair to this seventh generation of family weavers.
``Even before we were married [in 1982], Irvin told me - in so many words - that he had to move back here to Chimay'o someday,'' says Lisa who grew up in California and graduated from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, with a marketing degree. ``This is his family home. At that point, I realized if I'm going to get married to him, I had to find a way to live here, too.''
The challenge loomed large because most of the citified genre see Chimay'o as a siesta settlement where the hottest spots around are chili-pepper fields.
But Lisa had her solution - husband Irvin taught her to weave. And this wife from the ``outside'' soon found that the spider's skill slept in her soul. Lisa now spins and weaves with the cream of Hispanic contemporaries.
``Just this year she completed a `Saltillo' serape. A very intricate one. It's an incredible piece,'' says Helen Lucero, curator of New Mexican Hispanic crafts and textiles at Santa Fe's Museum of International Folk Art.
The Saltillo took six months to weave. Muted in color, it plays out the delicacy of a minuet, the gentility of a Cassatt. And into the Saltillo's traditional diamond design, Lisa wove a non-traditional heart.
``Seems as though every time I go see them, they amaze me with something new,'' says Dr. Lucero. ``They're exploring combinations that aren't what traditional Spanish weavers would have been doing back in the l800s or early 1900s.''
Although weaving runs smooth for Lisa and Irvin, there's a hitch in their life's tapestry they're not always embraced by the Hispanic community. Irvin went to school in the more cosmopolitan Los Alamos, birthplace of the A-bomb, where his dad worked as a property manager in the lab complex. Thus, much of Irvin's growing-up time was spent on English-speaking turf. The family returned to their home in Hispanic Chimay'o only on weekends to weave and tend crops.
Later, Irvin went off to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, undergoing more immersion in the Anglo world. ``I just don't speak the language [Spanish] as fluently as a low rider [the local young Hispanic men who drive low-slung cars]. So I'm not always accepted,'' Irvin explains.
As for Lisa, Lucero of the folk art museum says flatly, ``She's not Hispanic. For us [at the museum], it's a little difficult. We just haven't come up with a definitive solution what to do'' about Hispanic arts from non-Hispanics.