New Mexico: Another Dimension Looms
Chaney, Dale, The Saturday Evening Post
When Nancy and Janusz Kozikowski ski set up their studio in a New Mexican adobe village, they figured they'd have a tough time making their mark on the state's venerable weaving tradition. "We knew people didn't come to New Mexico to buy Anglo weaving, even Anglo weaving that was very, very different," Nancy says. And different it was. In contrast to the two-dimensional, geometric New Mexican rug and blanket patterns that have prevailed for hundreds of years, the Kozikowskis' three-dimensional tapestries of landscapes, portraits, and abstract designs looked more like painting than weaving.
Today, three-dimensional designs are found side by side with more traditional patterns in weaving shops and art galleries across New Mexico, and the Kozikowskis' own work is prominently displayed in public places. One of Nancy's tapestries, longer than a stretch limo and valued at $24,000, decorates a new wing in Albuquerque's airport. Janusz (YAN-ish) sells pieces in his "Chair" series (likelife depictions of Indian blankets draped on overstuffed chairs) for $8,000, and both artists have received considerable commissions for their work in hotels and other public buildings.
But it wasn't that way when the Kozikowskis arrived in the village of Medenales in 1973. John Cacciotore, the owner of the Dartmouth Street Gallery in Albuquerque, says, "There was no change, or very little, in New Mexico weaving for centuries. With the Kozikowskis, in 15 years there's been a big change."
Typical New Mexican weavers make the back of a piece as flawless as the front; the Kozikowskis let yams hang untidily from the back of their decidedly one-sided tapestries. Traditional weavers also allow their two-dimensional geometric designs to unfold spontaneously. …