Lady Liberty looks toward the sky with concern, torch held aloft. Behind her, the Twin Towers stand against a field of red and white stripes, and white stars float on a vertical blue panel.
But this isn’t a typical commemorative poster you might get in a gift shop.
Traditional Navajo imagery frames the patriotic sentiments in September 11 Weaving — triangles, lines, and stepped diamonds. At the edges of the 87.25 inch-by-119-inch tapestry are lines reminiscent of a chief’s blanket, but they run vertically instead of horizontally, echoing the orientation of the towers.
“Diné weavers always put a flaw in their weavings, and the backwards N to me suggests that’s her intentional imperfection. I have stared at this weaving a lot, and I could not find another flaw,” says Leslie Kim, curator of history at Albuquerque Museum, where Marylin Y. Scott’s weaving is on display through January 2022.
The museum purchased Scott’s work in June from Skip Maisel, owner of the now-closed Skip Maisel’s Indian Jewelry and Crafts in Albuquerque. He acquired the weaving directly from the artist in 2002.
September 11 Weaving blends traditional Navajo colors and geometric shapes with unusual touches, such as the gray-green of the Statue of Liberty, which resembles the patina on the real statue.
“I haven’t seen that in Diné weaving,” Kim says. “That’s not a traditional dye color.”
Kim has many questions that she’d like to ask the artist about the tapestry, but the museum has been unable to reach Scott, who lives in Tuba City, Arizona.
“In the records we got from Skip, we see that she was trained by her mother, Bessie Yazzie, and that her son drew the design. The weave on it is so fine and tight, not necessarily what you’d expect from a weaving of this scale. It’s beautiful.”