The tapestries you see above are from a region in northwestern Venezuela, on the border of Colombia, the Guajira Peninsula. The native tribe from that region are the Wayúu people, and have a rich tradition of weaving as a result of their lineage to the Caribs. This weaving tradition is largely perpetuated by the women of the community, but men also contribute and help keep the industry moving. It’s always curious how these gender distinctions emerge.
My family had a Wayúu tapestry (right), that decorated the walls of our home. We moved a lot while I was growing up, from California to Florida, but this mandala was always in our homes. After the “empty nest” and inevitable downsizing, the tapestry found its way into a box not be seen for many years. I was reminded of its existence after discovering the negatives (above) that my grandfather had taken of a Wayúu tapestry exhibition.
As research for an upcoming exhibition, I’ve been experimenting on how to remix the color and form of this tapestry with my grandfather’s archive of photographs. I’ve been fascinated radial, crystalline shapes for some time (see: refractions and wonder), so it was serendipitous that I came across this piece of family hxstory.