Shaped by the Loom is the first exhibition to showcase the American Museum of Natural History’s collection of Indigenous textiles from the greater American Southwest. Placing Indigenous aesthetics and ways of knowing at the center of Diné (Navajo) textile production, it highlights the localized and land-based knowledge systems that guide the process behind the finished product. This symposium, organized around the exhibition’s opening, invites audiences into the world of Navajo weaving to hear directly from the artists, cultural practitioners, curators, and scholars whose work has both informed and expanded this collaborative project.


9:30 am
Hadley Jensen (exhibition curator) and Peter Whiteley (American Museum of Natural History)
Welcome and Introduction

10 am
Lynda Teller Pete and Barbara Teller Ornelas (Diné textile artists)
Dah iistłʼǫ́ bikéé’yiit’ash (Our Journey with the Loom)

10:30 am
Wade Campbell (Boston University)
Indigenous Archaeological Evidence for Navajo Sheepherding in the Four Corners, c. AD 1600–Present

11 am
Coffee Break

11:20 am
Larissa Nez (University of California, Berkeley)
We Are Alive: Restoring Meaning and Life to Navajo Weavings

11:50 am
Rapheal Begay (photographer)
Visual Blessings: Photographs of Land, Light, and Love on the Navajo Nation

12:20 pm
Presenters will be joined by Darby Raymond-Overstreet (digital artist and printmaker) and Tyrrell Tapaha (fiber artist and weaver) for questions and conversation


Rapheal Begay (Diné) is a visual storyteller based in Window Rock, the capital of the Navajo Nation. Through photography and curatorial initiatives, he intends to culturally express and creatively advocate for understanding and teaching found in the Diné (Navajo) way of life. In 2017 he obtained his BFA in art studio with a minor in arts management and an undergraduate certificate in museum studies from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Named by Southwest Contemporary as one of twelve New Mexico Artists to Know in 2020, Begay is the recipient of the 2021–22 Goodman Aspiring Artist Fellowship and works as a public information officer with the Navajo Nation Division of Human Resources Administration in Window Rock, Arizona.

Wade Campbell
is a Diné (Navajo) historical archaeologist whose research examines the relationships between Diné communities and other local groups in the US Southwest from the seventeenth century to the present day, including the Pueblos, Spanish, and Americans. Campbell is engaged with a range of questions related to longer-term patterns of Navajo settlement and economic activity across the greater Four Corners region, with a particular focus on incipient Indigenous pastoralism and related shifts in land use, social organization, and diet and subsistence practices.

Hadley Jensen’s
research addresses the intersections among fine art, anthropology, and material culture, with a particular focus on Indigenous arts of the North American Southwest. She is currently a research associate at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and in the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, New York. Her curatorial project Shaped by the Loom: Weaving Worlds in the American Southwest, opening at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery, New York, in spring 2023, is the first exhibition to showcase the American Museum of Natural History’s collection of Diné (Navajo) textiles. Together, she and Rapheal Begay (Diné) are cocurators of Horizons: Weaving Between the Lines with Diné Textiles, opening at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in summer 2023. Her work has been supported by the Autry Museum of the American West, Center for Craft, Lunder Institute for American Art, Smithsonian Institution’s National Anthropological Archives and National Museum of Natural History, Terra Foundation for American Art, Textile Society of America, and Wyeth Foundation for American Art. In addition, she has hands-on experience learning Indigenous weaving and natural-dyeing practices, which has strengthened and enlivened her work as an academic researcher, curator, and teacher.

Larissa Nez
is an enrolled citizen of the Diné (Navajo) Nation. She was born and raised in the Navajo Nation, in a small community in northern Arizona. She is of the Mud People and was born to the Mountain Cove People. Her maternal grandfather is of the Red Running into the Water People, and her paternal grandfather is of the Big Water People. Larissa earned her BA in art history with a minor in sociology from the University of Notre Dame and her MA in public humanities from Brown University. She is currently a PhD student in ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research explores the intersections between art history, cultural studies, critical theory, Indigenous studies, and Black studies.

Barbara Teller Ornelas
(Diné) is a fifth-generation master Navajo weaver and culture bearer, who sold her first rug when she was only ten years old. Her father, Sam Teller (1918–2000), was a Diné (Navajo) trader for thirty-two years and her mother, Ruth Teller (1928–2014), was a weaver, gardener, quilter, and photographer. When Ornelas was ten, 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 internationally 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. Instilled in her work from the age of six, when Pete was officially introduced to weaving, is the belief that beauty and harmony should be woven into every rug. 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 also the director of equity and inclusion at the Textile Society of America.

Darby Raymond-Overstreet
(Diné) is an award-winning digital artist and printmaker. Born in Tuba City, Arizona, and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona, she is a proud member of the Navajo Nation. She received her BA in psychology and studio art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, in 2016. She currently resides in Chimayó, New Mexico, and through her work she studies, works with, and creates Navajo pattern designs that materialize through portraits, landscapes, and abstract forms. Her work is heavily inspired by and derived from traditional Navajo textiles, with particular interest in pieces woven in the late 1800s to the 1950s.

Tyrrell Tapaha
is a Diné weaver and fiber artist from Goat Springs, Arizona. Their work encompasses the intergenerational pastoral living handed down through Tapaha’s grandfather, great-grandmother, and other relatives willing to teach. Tapaha produces woven textiles and felted objects for both aesthetic and utilitarian uses. These textiles are made with raw natural fibers predominantly grown on the Navajo Nation and hand-dyed with local flora from the Four Corners Region. Tapaha’s weavings are tied to a life lived and intimately interwoven with feelings, memories, and experiences. Tapaha has worked as an apprentice with master weaver Roy Kady. In addition to their fiber and textile work, Tapaha also works full-time as a sheep herder in the Four Corners region of the Navajo Nation.

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.