WELL MAY THEY BE MADE—Navajo Textiles from the Coleman Cooper Collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art with Selections from the Denver Art Museum and Private Collections
Ellen F. Elsas, Birmingham Museum of Art
Ann Lane Hedlund, Arizona State University
Publisher: Birmingham Museum of Art
Softcover, 48 pages, exhibition catalog, illustrated in black and white and color
Birmingham Museum of Art, October 4 – December 21, 1987
Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, Florida, January 8 – February 7, 1988
From the Introduction
Since its founding, the Birmingham Museum of Art has been concerned with cultural diversity. The Museum has recognized the significance of the arts of the Native American peoples and has, from its earliest days, devoted gallery space to the exhibition of these works. The collection has been enriched by the recent donation of ninety-one Navajo rugs and blankets from the collection of the late Coleman Cooper. These textiles serve not only as objects of exquisite beauty with subtle harmonies and ingenious designs but also signify important aspects of the culture of the Navajo people. The role of the weavers, the process of creation, the various regional differences, and the use of these textiles provide insight into the lives of the Navajo over the centuries. These considerations are documented both in the catalogue and through the collateral information included with the exhibition.
Mr. Cooper cultivated his interest in Navajo rugs over a lifetime and became a knowledgeable collector whose appreciation for the art form was profound. As enumerated on the dedicatory page, Mr. Cooper acquired hundreds of oriental rugs and other textiles and these have been given to the Museum as well. A native of Birmingham, but long a resident of Palm Beach, Mr. Cooper would be gratified to know that this exhibition also would be on view at the Society of the Four Arts. The museum remembers Mr. Cooper with gratitude and values the involvement of Mr. Bert Hallock who continues their tradition of generosity.
Ellen Elsas, Curator of Traditional Arts, deserves commendation for her scholarly work on this exhibition and publication which documents the Navajo rug collection for the first time.
Significantly, the most popular permanent installation at the museum is the Native American Gallery in which the Cooper Navajo Rug Collection will be rotated after the exhibition. The Museum is proud to show these textiles created by Navajo artists and to promote the understanding of the contribution they have made to our American artistic heritage.