Shaped by the Loom: Weaving Worlds in the American Southwest will be the first online and gallery exhibition to showcase the American Museum of Natural History’s (AMNH) collection of Indigenous textiles from the greater American Southwest.

To know Navajo weaving, one must also understand the network of relationships that sustains a larger world, or ecosystem, of craft production in the American Southwest. This world includes the sheep, the seasonal cycles that guide the harvesting of dye plants, the individual and communal rhythms of making, the cosmologies that inform a weaver’s work, and the songs, stories, and prayers that are woven into every rug. With this in mind, Shaped by the Loom places Indigenous aesthetics and ways of knowing at the center of Navajo textile production, highlighting the localized and land-based knowledge systems that guide the process behind the finished product. Rather than reifying the object, this perspective foregrounds the active and generative practices that shape and animate this art form. Just as the Navajo language is powerfully verb-oriented, weaving metaphors are equally action-oriented, reflecting the connection between mind, body, and material inherent to the making process.