Hanging on the gallery walls of the Hammer Museum at UCLA are weavings from Melissa Cody, enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. Her works are part of the museum’s acclaimed biennale featuring artists from across Los Angeles, which this year is titled “Made in L.A. 2023: Acts of Living.”
Cody’s practice brings to vivid life contemporary versions of a revered artistic tradition. Diné (Navajo) weavings are a manifestation of anticolonial resistance, resilience and transformation, preserving indigenous knowledge and memory, and transmitting them through generations.
Weaving on a vertical Diné loom with a guiding compositional structure, Cody also makes design decisions as she works. At the same time, she introduces aspects unfamiliar to Diné practice, including digital graphics reminiscent of the pixelated early Nintendo video games and other cultural phenomena of the 1980s.
Cody, who comes from a family of weavers, draws on techniques learned from her grandmother and mother — both respected weavers in their communities. Her digitally woven designs presented in “Made in L.A.” are made on a digital loom with elements woven by hand. These weavings are technologies for the preservation and continuation of cultural meaning that would otherwise be silenced and obliterated.
“It’s very interesting to think about time in terms of weaving time, because that’s how I gauge my life,” Cody says in this “Made in L.A.” video. “When I see a piece that I haven’t (seen) in a long time, I remember what I was doing when that piece was on the loom, because the way you feel on the inside get manifested as you create.”