Award winning Navajo weaver Isabel John and her husband Frank, were killed on Decemer 6, 2004, when the vehicle they were in was hit from behind by an intoxicated driver south of Newcomb, New Mexico.
Isabel, 71, was known for her pictorial weavings that depicted traditional Navajo life. You would never see a pickup, trailer home or satellite dish in her weavings. She wanted people to see what life was like for the Navajo before modern conveniences came to Navajo country. She was recognized as the greatest weaver of Navajo Pictorials.
John's work is in many private and public collections, and her weavings have been featured at many museums and exhibits, including the Wheelwright Museum, the Denver Art Museum, the Cleveland Art Museum, the Heard Museum, the University of Arizona Museum, the Gloria Ross Collection, the Center for Southwest Studies and the Birmingham Art Museum.
One of her weavings toured the United States and Europe as part of the Lost and Found Traditions Collection. She was a guest artist at the opening of the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Isabel John's weavings have been shown in many of the finer Indian Art Galleries in the United States, including Two Grey Hills Indian Art in Jackson, Wyoming; Garland's Navajo Rugs in Sedona, Arizona; Cameron Trading Post in Arizona; the Heard Museum Shop in Phoenix, Arinza; Grey Dog Trading in Tucson, Arizona; and the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"We are losing so many of the older weavers," commented Ann Hedlund, curator of the Gloria Ross Textile Collection. "Isabel was definitely one of the great ones."
Isabel and her husband lived at Many Farms, Arizona. Isabel was a purist. She spoke no English and lived much the way the people in her weavings were portrayed. She was a traditional Navajo who went to Medicine Men, herded sheep and doted on her grandchildren. At the same time, she was collected by the likes of Steven Speilberg and had her work displayed in museums around the world.
We are saddened by the terrible loss of a good friend and a great weaver, but her work will carry on her legacy.