The thumping sounds of the weaving comb keep time as two masters at the loom recount a matrilineal history of artmaking. Lynda Teller Pete and Barbara Teller Ornelas—both fifth-generation weavers—will share stories, histories, and ways of seeing the artist in the art. They are joined by Barbara’s daughter Sierra Teller Ornelas—a sixth-generation weaver turned celebrated comedy writer, creator of the critically-acclaimed Rutherford Falls.

Barbara Teller Ornelas (Diné) is a fifth-generation master Navajo weaver and culture bearer who sold her first rug when she was only 10 years old. Her father Sam Teller (1918–2000) was a Diné (Navajo) trader for 32 years and her mother, Ruth Teller (1928–2014), was a weaver, gardener, quilter, and photographer. When Ornelas was 10, her paternal grandmother dreamt that her granddaughter would become a great weaver who shared their traditions around the world. Fifty-six years later, Ornelas has not only honed her artistry as a Two Grey Hills weaver but shared it with audiences all over the world in the form of workshops, lectures, and exhibitions.

Lynda Teller Pete (Diné) is an award-winning fifth-generation weaver who is best known for using a traditional Two Grey Hills regional style. The belief that beauty and harmony should be woven into every rug was instilled in her from the age of six, when Pete was officially introduced to weaving. Along with her weaving, she collaborates with art centers, guilds, museums, universities, and other venues to educate the public about Diné (Navajo) history and the preservation of Navajo weaving traditions. Together with her sister Barbara Teller Ornelas, she wrote Spider Woman’s Children: Navajo Weavers Today (2018), the first book written about Diné weavers by Diné weavers since the time of Spanish and colonial contacts, as well as How to Weave a Navajo Rug and Other Lessons from Spider Woman (2020). Pete is the director of equity and inclusion at the Textile Society of America.

Sierra Teller Ornelas has previously staffed on: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Superstore, Happy Endings, Splitting Up Together, Surviving Jack and Selfie. She is the cocreator and show runner of the Peacock show Rutherford Falls, starring Ed Helms, Jana Schmieding and Michael Greyeyes. Sierra’s work has been featured on This American Life, the New York Times Opinion Section and the Hollywood Reporter’s Guest Column. A graduate of the University of Arizona, she previously worked as a film programmer for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, helping to create ridiculously entertaining programs about Native film and media. Raised in Tucson, AZ, she is also an award winning sixth generation Navajo tapestry weaver, a fairly good mom, and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.

This program was organized in conjunction with the spring 2023 exhibition Shaped by the Loom: Weaving Worlds in the American Southwest.

Support for the exhibition is generously provided by Art Bridges

Additional support provided by the Henry Luce Foundation, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art and other donors to Bard Graduate Center

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Special thanks to American Museum of Natural History.