These two rugs were woven by Ellen Smith (left), a master weaver, and her granddaughter Angie Smith (right), who was age 14 at the time. They were both entered in the 1961 Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial, where Ellen won a special award and Angie won second prize in the juvenile division.
Made from handspun wool with natural and vegetal dyes, the rugs were woven with nearly identical banded/geometric design motifs of stripes and elongated, serrated diamonds in orange, tan, and beige. Gilbert Maxwell donated them to the Maxwell Museum in 1963.
Ellen Smith is a talented natural dye artist from Pine Springs, Arizona who is known for her Wide Ruin and Pine Springs rugs. She was featured in the book Ray Manley’s the Fine Art of Navajo Weaving by Steve Getzwiller (1984, Ray Manley Publications), which included several photos of her and her work; other examples of her work are found in the Museum of Northern Arizona. A helpful book for learning about the importance of intergenerational relationships in Navajo weaving is Louise Lamphere’s Weaving Women’s Lives: Three Generations in a Navajo Family (2007, University of New Mexico Press).