“There are many close-ups of materials and tools in Fleurette Estes’s photo essay “Behind the Loom: The Legacy, Heritage & Resilience of Navajo Weaving.” Yet the Lost Origins Gallery show celebrates the landscape as much as the culture with its pictures and text by Estes, a Texas-based artist who spent some of her childhood on the Navajo Nation reservation. Its territory includes Monument Valley, a red-rocked expanse of craggy plateaus and towering buttes in southeastern Utah.
The landscape is suitably prominent, by itself or as a dramatic backdrop to foregrounded looms in Estes’s crisp, colorful pictures. One photo, “Loom in the Wind,” cannily employs an upright weaving device as a frame for a sweeping vista, viewed partly through strands of strung yarn. Shot on Fuji film, the pictures feature vivid blues and turquoises as well as the earth tones of the land and scrubby grass.
Estes’s project was inspired by her stepmother and sister, both renowned Navajo weavers, and partly funded by the Focus on the Story Emerging Storyteller Grant. The proceeds from this show will benefit Adopt-a-Native-Elder, one of whose programs provides yarn to older weavers.” – Mark Jenkins