D.Y. Begay, Mellon Indigenous Arts Visiting Fellow

DY Begay with her tapestry Confluence of Lavender  © Kelso Meyer 2016
September 19, 2019

The Mellon Indigenous Arts Initiative is delighted to host Navajo weaver D.Y. Begay as our next Indigenous Arts Visiting Fellow in October 21-24. As part of her residency, Begay will co-teach some classes at UVa and will work on the Fralin Museum of Art's collection of Native American textiles with Adriana Greci Green, Curator of Indigenous Arts of the Americas.

Begay will give a public Artist Talk (free, no reservation required) on October 22, 6:30 PM, Campbell Hall room 153 (UVa's School of Architecture). Additionally, you can visit the Fralin Museum of Art October 1-24 to see one of her works, Dah iistłó Bizaad (Weaving’s Voice), 2017, on loan from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

D.Y. Begay, a Navajo born to the Totsohni’ (Big Water) Clan and born for the Tachinii’ (Red Running into Earth) Clan, is a fourth-generation weaver. Growing up around female weavers, she was exposed to herding and shearing sheep, carding and spinning wool, harvesting plants for dyeing, and learning to weave in the traditional Navajo fashion. Begay’s tapestries encompass her interpretation of the natural beauty and descriptive colors of the Navajo reservation, reflecting on her Navajo identity and her family’s weaving tradition. This spiritual connection to the plants yields the natural colors that are transformed into evocative land formations on her loom. Her current work combines mastery of this tradition with unconventional uses of colors and design, producing experiments with non-reservation color combinations in her weavings.  

Begay is a 2018 United States Artists Fellow and is a recipient of the Native American Art Studies Association Lifetime Achievement Award (2013).  In 2018 the Museum of Northern Arizona organized Tselani/Terrain: Tapestries of D.Y. Begay, a focused retrospective of her work.  Begay’s tapestries have been exhibited in and collected by major museums, including the National Museum of the American Indian, New York City; Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, Santa Fe, NM; Kennedy Museum of Art, Athens, OH; C.N. Gorman Museum, Davis, CA; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA; Mesa Art Center, Mesa, AZ; National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland; and the Heard Museum. Her work traveled in the Arts in Embassies program in 2006 and 2010.  Her latest work, a wintry landscape of northeastern Minnesota commissioned by the Minneapolis Institute of Art, is presently on tour in the acclaimed exhibition Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists

Image: DY Begay with her tapestry Confluence of Lavender  © Kelso Meyer 2016