Grantee: Melissa S. Cody
Melissa S. Cody is a fourth-generation Navajo weaver and textile artist who was raised on the Navajo Reservation in Northern Arizona. At a time when the younger generations had begun to abandon the art – more and more viewed it as suitable only for old women and grandmothers – Cody was receiving her first lessons from her mother. She was five.
Even after a career of more than two decades, her mother remains a treasured mentor. Cody credits her for her own work’s perfection in setup, structure, tensioning, technique, and the subtle intricacies so richly evident in her art. The inspiration for her designs comes from traditional weaving patterns, utilitarian weaving blankets, and significant historical events, such as the Long Walk of the Navajo.
Cody is recognized for her skill in traditional weaving techniques and the perfection of her weaves. She has a substantial following, with work that ventures beyond the traditional form. Her fusion of eclectic contemporary themes with traditional Navajo tapestry design employs vivid color schemes and produces sharp geometric overlays. The result is a stunning weave that displays as if it is three dimensional.
Cody received a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Arts and Museum Studies from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 2014, her work received the Best of Show Award from the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, Calif., and in 2017, she received the Judges Award from the Heard Museum Fair and Market.
She [Cody’s mother] didn’t want me to water down my work in order to please a market. She made sure that all of the departures from the idea of “traditional design” were made with a purpose, rather than arbitrarily.