“With our weaving, everything’s fluid. The stories are fluid, the prayers are fluid. And it’s very family-based”

In This Episode
Jessie Mordine Young speaks with authors, educators, and fifth-generation Navajo weavers Lynda Teller Pete and Barbara Teller Ornelas about their ancestral knowledge of weaving, their process of making rugs, their recently published book on the topic, and their relationship with their tools.

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Download transcript here.

Lynda Teller Pete (Diné, b. 1958) 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 Henry Luce Foundation’s Indigenous Knowledge Fellow (2022–23) and the director of equity and inclusion at the Textile Society of America.

Barbara Teller Ornelas (Diné, b. 1954) 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.

Jessie Mordine Young is a Brooklyn-based artist who researches, writes about, curates, makes, and teaches textile art. She earned her MA from Bard Graduate Center in 2021. She works as an adjunct professor in the MFA Textiles Program and the School of Constructed Environments at the Parsons School of Design in New York City.