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Book of the Week — Spiritual Patterns: Images of Navajo Women

“Because of her, we think and create.
Because of her, we make songs.
Because of her, the designs appear as we weave.
Because of her, we tell stories and laugh.
We believe in old values and new ideas.

Hayoołkáałgo Sisnaajiní bik’ehgo hózhónígo naashá”

— Luci Tapahonso, “This Is How They Were Placed for Us”

Spiritual patterns: images of Navajo women
artist James Joe, printer Daniel O. Stolpe
Aztec, N.M. : Native Images, [1996] E99 N3 J583 1996

Excerpted from the introduction and colophon: “James Joe, Navajo artist, has created this suite of hand-drawn lithographs from his matured vision and insight into the spiritual essence of his native world. The woven patterns which flow from his skillful hand respectfully honor the source of his life, the Navajo Woman.” 

“Each practicing Native American artist is challenged to develop a unique and individual style while remaining true to his long and rich ancestral tradition. The spiritual reality in the patterns and colors of the woven blankets, the religious healing of the sand paintings, the sacred dances and songs are a source of deep inspiration. This extraordinary suite of prints demonstrates how a contemporary native artist can integrate both.”

“Solitary wrapped figures which stand in silence, in eternal strength and endurance, against bright, vibrant landscapes which hold the life drama. The faces of the children display nobility brought forth into the world by the Navajo women. In reflecting on his heritage and call to his vocation, James Joe states…

There’s a mission I have to complete in life… I was given this gift to reach people. I hope they’ll sit down and listen to each other. Eventually we can come together, the white world and the Indian world.”

“The collaboration of James Joe with Daniel Stolpe, artist and master printer, is a special partnership of two talented individuals. In his own work, Stolpe’s formidable style expresses spiritual archetypes through command of the powerful lithographic medium. Both artists sustain mutual commitment to mythical and earth based imagery, as well as possessing strong drafting skill and style.”

“The choosing of the hand-drawn and hand-printed lithographic media to produce these sensitive drawings of a sacred and traditional subject was a deliberate decision. This suite required the format be as ancient as the enduring subject. The stone itself is as solid as James Joe’s portrayal of [Navajo] women.”

“The lithographic quality of the tone scale derived from the grain of the Bavarian limestone has a timeless quality […] The stone is calcium from the earliest deposits of sea shelled creatures 40 million plus years ago. The lithographic process was discovered and developed in Germany in the 1800s and is based on the principle that oil and water repel on a molecular level. The printing process succeeds by holding the proper balance of ink and water on the stone’s surface in order to maintain the image openness throughout the edition.”

“The suite of four lithographs were drawn by hand on the stone by James Joe and printed on Lana Cover White by Daniel O. Stolpe at the Native Images Print Studio in Aztec, New Mexico. The title page and text were printed by silkscreen under the direction of Dale Matlock at the Print Gallery in Santa Cruz, California. The folio was printed by monotype on BFK Rives by Daniel O. Stolpe at the Native Images Print Studio […] This edition consists of 50 numbered and signed folios of which ten are bound in book form.” The University of Utah’s rare books copy is numbered 15.


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