Master Weaver: Selena Yazzie
Master Weaver: Selena Yazzie
Born : 1963
CLANS: To’ahani-Near the water people, born for Tachii’nii-Red Running into water people, Ta’bahi-Edge water people - maternal grandfather. Ta’bahi-Edge water people - paternal grandfather.
I have lived on the Navajo Reservation, I am originally from White Clay, AZ, but now I reside in Navajo, NM. I learned how to weave from my grandmother – the late Jessie Yazzie. When I was younger, I used to watch her weave. I used to play around with her loom when she was not around. I would string in the yarn, where I made mistakes, she would take back out. I was seven years old when I started weaving – just by helping my grandmother in this way. When I was ten years old, I completed my first rug. During the summertime, I wove rugs to purchase my school clothes and supplies.
I am related to Cara Yazzie, she is my cousin-sister. I am really impressed with her ability to weave and the size of the rugs she makes. She is the person who introduced me to Steve Getzwiller back in 1988. From that point on, I started working with Steve. Before that, I sold my rugs to various buyers.
My favorite designs are: Two Grey Hills and Eye Dazzlers. Weaving kept me busy – physically and mentally. It provided me with income to raise my children. I enjoy weaving, it allows me to create various patterns with many different colors. Sometimes, I think to myself, did I make that? I am proud of myself – I am an artist!
I do my best to explain how it is to weave: it takes a lot of work and time to think about the colors to use and the pattern to make. For me, the colors I use are very important. The pattern of the rug comes second. The more detailed the rug is the more time and patience it takes to complete. When I get the hang of a weaving, it gets completed quickly. When I finish, it’s off the loom and I lay it out, I am always amazed at the beauty I created. I feel good about myself.
Over the years, I wove a lot of traditional pattern, a Yei, Sandpainting and other pictorial rugs. These are all replicas of sacred ceremonies. I wove these rugs from memory; I picture them as a drawing and do my best to represent them in a good way. I hope through my work, the Holy People recognize me and my connection to this world. In our tradition, we are told that if you do not know the stories behind the ceremonies you should not replicate them or they would affect your life in the future.
I love what I do, I encourage myself and believe that I can do something that many people do not know how to do. I am able to share my creations with the world. I am excited that my rugs are displayed in Art Galleries.
My family is the inspiration for my work. They are bit influence when it comes to weaving, they motivate me and tell me “you are famous”! I have won several awards over the years: Best of Rugs, Pictorial winner -1st and 2nd Place, and many more. Most of the time, Steve Getzwiller would enter my rugs in the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial and once it is over, I would find out I won!!
I am most well known for Pictorial and Sandpainting weavings. I would like experiment with making a raised outline because it amazes me. The rug has 2 different designs on the front and back. I would also like to weave a saddle blanket, because it is very different from the designs I usually make. The Two Grey Hills is another one I always wanted to make – someday maybe I will try it?
I have a large family, my husband, Peterson and I have 9 children. I have 3 young ladies and 6 handsome young men. They have all grown into young adults. They have all moved out on their own. Some are in the military and some have families of their own, some are working and others are still going to school – working on their degree. I am proud of my family and of myself.”
Selena has made many weavings over her career and 58 for the Navajo Churro Collection, one of which took Best of Weavings at Gallup Inter-tribal Ceremonial in 2015.