Grace Henderson Nez has lived her entire life in a hogan at the base of Ganado Mesa on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. For more than seven decades, she has raised and sheared sheep, carded and dyed the wool, and wove intricate and distinctive Navajo rugs. In addition to creating textiles with complex and balanced designs, she reveals her technique in her ability to select the right wool quality, yarn weight, and weaving texture to produce strong and perfectly even rugs and blankets. Her works are in the late 19th century designs known as the "old style" as well as the distinct Ganado style, using brilliant red backgrounds with natural white, gray, brown, and black geometric patterns.
Scholar Ann Lane Hedlund estimates that there are more than 10,000 weavers on the Navajo Reservation. She suggests that Grace Henderson Nez is especially deserving of recognition because she combines artistic excellence with the traditional values and spiritual concentration that serve as a model for all weavers of the region. In 2002, Nez received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Museum of Indian Arts and Crafts in Santa Fe.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency