Diné (Navajo) weavings are a manifestation of anticolonial resistance, resilience, and transformation, preserving indigenous knowledge and memory and transmitting them through generations. Melissa Cody’s weavings are vibrant, bold, and dynamic. They perform a dance between the ancestral and the contemporary, echoing traditional weaving techniques and motifs, particularly those associated with the Diné people. Cody comes from a family of weavers and draws on techniques learned from her grandmother and mother, both respected weavers in their communities. The artist weaves on a vertical Diné loom with a guiding compositional structure while also making design decisions as she works. Her weavings take inspiration in part from the “Germantown style,” developed by nineteenth-century weavers who embraced industrially dyed yarns manufactured in Germantown, Pennsylvania. At the same time the artist introduces aspects unfamiliar to Diné practice, including digital graphics reminiscent of the pixelated early Nintendo video games and other cultural phenomena of the 1980s. Discouraging false binaries that might oppose the traditional and the contemporary, the work underscores how these categories often overlap in all kinds of creative practices. Evidence of the transformation of her designs and mobility across mediums, Cody’s practice also encompasses digitally woven designs, as is the case with the works presented in this exhibition, made on a digital loom with elements woven by hand. These weavings are technologies for the preservation and continuation of cultural meaning that would otherwise be silenced and obliterated.
Melissa Cody (b. 1983, No Water Mesa, Arizona) is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. She received her BA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2007. She has exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2019–20); Rebecca Camacho Presents, San Francisco (2019); Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff (2019); Exploratorium, San Francisco (2019); Heard Museum, Phoenix (2019); MASS Gallery, Austin (2019); SITE Santa Fe (2018–19); Navajo Nation Museum, Window Rock, Arizona (2018); Ingham Chapman Gallery, University of New Mexico, Gallup (2018); Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe (2017–18); Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (2017); and Stark Museum of Art, Orange, Texas (2014).