Weaving was not handed down to her from her immediate family. Lisa Trujillo married into a fiber arts heritage that goes back seven generations. She learned her art from her husband, Irvin Trujillo, and his father, Jacobo. She began weaving in the early 80’s and has distinguished herself as a master weaver in her own right.
Lisa acknowledges the gift and the privilege of coming into such a rich legacy, and also the responsibility. It is Irvin’s family heritage and everything it stands for means so much. “He has extended family that ARE this place”, she says, and the fact that she’s the one who gets to live here when they’ve had to leave in order to earn their livings, weighs on her. “I am here, doing this thing,” she says, “and it feels sacred in a different way than the creative process is. All these people put so much work into this land. They stayed here. They suffered here. There’s a responsibility to those people—both the people that have passed and the people that are still around—and I do take that seriously.”
She says her own family doesn’t have a sense of place like that because they’ve moved around. They’ve been somewhere entirely different, a thousand miles apart at least, every generation—for the last four anyway.
Her life in Chimayo is very different from anything she’d known before. She grew up in a city—Los Angeles—and the village is a whole culture she’s learning. She’s made choices that she’s hoping are OK: Her Spanish isn’t good, she’s not out there farming, she’s not pruning…
But she is consciously bringing something of herself into the mix. “I think those of us who move in have to have a lot of respect, but there must be a balance too. You have to understand, but you also have to create this in your own way. It’s still me and I have to be a factor—my history is a part of me and somehow the history of this place is part of me. I have to take everything and make it a complete and healthy whole. I have to be true to the place and the people and myself and my family and my own personal legacy. I have to make it real and I have to make it honest. I must respect my own heritage in order to make it authentic.”
And Lisa is doing that in the work she creates. She says there’s a lot of innovation in the tradition, that weavers have always pushed the boundaries, so there is tons of variety. She wants to be true to the medium—its limitations and possibilities—but it must be creative. She never weaves the same thing twice. It is a new piece on the loom every time, which is what she and Irvin are about. “If you’re just making it to sell and you don’t get to be creative it gets boring. The weaving process isn’t interesting if I know what a piece is going to look like. There’s nothing intriguing about that. What is intriguing is watching something new happening before my eyes and being a part of it—participating with what’s on the loom and deciding what can make it better. That’s a process I like.”
She also loves using up left over yarn—just a skein of this and a ball of that. She takes all the left overs for the whole shop, a role she enjoys, and that ends up defining her pallet. She’ll have all these colors but only a little of each and she has to figure out how to use them in ways that are artful and will also make sense. “I love that,” she says. “It’s fun to work with those kinds of limitations.” One of her newest pieces titled, When the Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts, was born from just this kind of unlimited/limited pallet.
She and Irvin are also active with The Espinola Valley Fiber Arts Center and New Mexico Fiber Artisans. They want to promote the vibrancy of New Mexico’s fiber tradition. Lisa says, “It’s a treasure that we have and it’s fun to try and show the world what happens here.”
They have won countless major awards, have appeared in over thirty publications and have been collected around the world by individuals and museums, including the permanent collection at The Smithsonian.
Find more about Lisa, her work, and Centinela Traditional Arts at chimayoweavers.com
Love to you all,