I love the legacy aspect of weaving so much, especially learning about the women and men who have paved the way for today’s generation of weavers. This October, as part of the Taos Wool Festival, Weaving Southwest will be honoring three iconic New Mexico weavers who have passed on in the last ten years.
Joan Potter Loveless, Rachel Brown, and Kristina Wilson were three New England transplants who became key figures in the Taos weaving revival. Their tapestry work, as well as their work with local and rural weaving cooperatives, was documented by Joan Potter Loveless in her classic book, Three Weavers.
Three Weavers covers 40 years of these creative, inspiring women’s careers, watching them grow personally, professionally, and as artists in the Taos and Arroyo Seco areas where they lived and worked. Here’s a little more information about these three women, and the impact they had on weaving in the Taos community.
Joan Potter Loveless first moved to Taos in 1956 with her artist husband. She was educated at Black Mountain College, where she studied weaving as well as writing and history. While in Taos, she began to weave tapestries with homespun, hand-dyed yarns. She temporarily returned to the East Coast until 1989, when she returned to Taos with her second husband. In 1992, Three Weavers was published, chronicling her and her friends’ lives in Taos. Joan died in May of 2009.
Rachel Brown studied at Radcliffe College before moving to Taos in the 1940s. She moved to Arroyo Seco in 1956, and opened her first fiber shop, The Craft House, in the 1960s. She is the author of The Weaving, Spinning, and Dyeing Book, published 1978. Rachel was also actively involved in the community, helping to start the Teirra Wools weaving cooperative in the village of Los Ojos. In the early 1980s, she founded Rio Grande Weavers Supply, which became Weaving Southwest. She was also one of the founders of the Taos Wool Festival. In 1993, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. Rachel died in January 2012, in Taos.
Kristina Wilson moved to Taos in 1944 with her mother, also an artist. Originally, she learned to weave as an occupational therapist, but then she began to weave for herself. She had a major impact on the economic development of rural weaving communities throughout northern New Mexico. In particular, she helped Rachel Brown open The Craft House, a place where local New Mexico weavers could sell their crafts and learn new skills. She also helped found Twining Weavers. There, she helped preserve the local tradition of Spanish weaving in the Arroyo Seco area. Additionally, she worked with the disabled, helping to get access to special looms and basic equipment. Kristina died in 2015.
Weaving Southwest will be hosting a show in honor of The Three Weavers, displaying a few of their gorgeous tapestries. The exhibit will run October 1—20. There will also be an opening reception at the Taos Wool Festival on October 1st that will incorporate both film and text, to bring the important, influential work of these weavers to life.