New Exhibit – Indian Summer at Ghost Ranch: A study in Geology Through Tapestry

In recognition of Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Day 2019, the Florence Hawley Ellis Museum of Anthropology launched our latest exhibit–Indian Summer at Ghost Ranch: A Study of Geology Through Tapestry. This exhibit features a collection of fifteen tapestries that show the unique geology and ambiance of Ghost Ranch. A blue horizon line runs through each tapestry and ties the horizon theme together. This collaboration among artists has resulted in a harmonious composite, representing the beauty and mystery of Ghost Ranch. The exhibit will be on display until August 2020.

The concept for Ghost Ranch Museums’ latest exhibit “Indian Summer at Ghost Ranch: a study in Geology Through Tapestry” came from Scottish Master Weaver Joan Baxter. She proposed that each weaver attending the Desert Horizons Workshop at Ghost Ranch to weave their own 12-inch by 1 or 2-inch section of a long thin desert horizon image. This approach allowed the weavers more freedom to interpret in their own style but did not present everyone with the same technical and interpretive challenges. The result was a composite tapestry made up of 10 to 15 parts to be used in a group exhibition.

Weavers studied the landscape of Ghost Ranch and drew the horizons. From these drawings, they made a long thin design and made some broad color decisions. The design was then divided into the requisite number of sections and woven during the class. Within the minimal design parameters given each weaver, these students interpreted their section of the design. As a group, they decided on a minimum and a maximum tapestry size, uniform finishing instructions, a final tapestry finish date, and the blue color of the ‘horizon line’ appearing in each tapestry.

Most tapestry weavers work alone, however, this project opened up the new possibility of working on one’s own design yet keeping the group’s goal of a tapestry in 15 parts. It meant working with the tapestry weaver on either side of each particular piece. This insured that each particular piece worked with the design as a whole. It was difficult, energizing, and created a dialog between the tapestry artists that resulted in the sharing of ideas and techniques. 

Each weaver has provided a detailed editorial about the location or iconic link to the Ghost Ranch story and landscape.

The Ghost Ranch Museums’ staff hopes that the display of this collaboration, will engage visitors in a dialog with the work and encourage visitors to compare the tapestries to the geological horizon of Ghost Ranch.




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