A Posting by Jovita Lee, NCAP Work Study Intern
Hello, again! It’s me, Jovita the work study intern for the Navajo Cultural Arts Program. This semester has been filled with tons of rewarding experiences and new opportunities for me. I learned not only how to organize, promote and host lectures and workshops…but I, Jovita Lee, wove a rug and a horse cinch! Yup … you heard that right! As part of my work study – I got some ridiculously awesome time in front of the NCAP looms. I had a whole bunch of teachers that helped me meet one of my work study objectives. The Spider Rock Girls taught me stories about the struggles and realities associated with weaving as a means of financial income. It was so surprising to me that they started at a young age. During their workshop I really got a feel of warping my own loom, spinning 3ply edge cords, and utilizing the weaving tools.
I sat in on Ilene Naegle’s cohort weaving class and she showed me how to spin the 2ply. I really enjoyed that because we made wool bracelet to help us make the spinning process easier. When I had time, I spent some of my days in NHC 101C, outside of the NCAP office, working on my rug. Diné College employees would walk by and check on my progress. I was always excited to let them know that that was my first rug. And its true – never did I think I would be weaving a whole rug and now I’m doing the impossible. It also gave me time to meet with some NCAP students and see their work. They are great artists, creative and funny, and just easy to get along with. So, if you see Ilene, Paula Begay, Kirena Clah, or Heather Williams stop and ask them about their projects. They are some down to earth souls that I enjoyed meeting and weaving with.
In addition to my hands on experiences at the loom, I attended the Navajo Cultural Week at the Naschitti Elementary School. I really enjoyed this experience because it was a community I was familiar with. Not only was it on my side of the mountain, but also because this is where my mother is originally from. I helped the Emerging Artisans set up in the library of the Naschitti Elementary School. It is a new building and despite the coldness, the stories being shared to the elementary students warmed up the room with smiles. This is where I first met the other NCAP students, the silversmiths and moccasin makers.
The Emerging artisans demonstrated to students ranging in age from 4 years old to 10 years old. While some kids were being….well kids…. For the most part the students were curious and wanting to touch the finished projects. I was able to see some of my own little relatives and watch how excited they got about these demos. The event was successful, filled with learning, and hands experiences for these students.
I learned some other practical skills during my work study….like how to transport a loom in a car…. #weaversproblems. I was asked to take my loom home so I could finish it up faster. I had to figure out how to fit the loom in my car, so I rig it where my trunk wouldn’t close. Driving past members of Wheatfields and Crystal was an experience that I will not forget anytime soon. Heads turned as I drove by and the tried to figure out what was in my trunk. Their faces made me chuckle. First time I ever did anything like that. I also became extremely aware of weather patterns. Let’s just say …. Driving with your trunk open makes way for major drafts.
In the end, working with NCAP I had the opportunity to meet all kinds of Diné College employees. From security guards, to instructors, community members, and students, I got the chance to see how our College functions on another level. Most impressive was the growth of cultural art skills – not only of the Emerging Artisans – but also of my own weaving skills.
Finishing my projects was the best feeling ever. I’ve never in my life felt so accomplish starting from nothing then learning how to roll wool to spending the evenings finishing my weavings. All this, in addition to being a full time student earning her BA degree and having my fulltime parenting responsibilities, I made my declaration of being super woman when I was done. My first ever rug - completed. My first ever horse cinch - completed. My first semester as a NCAP work study intern – completed. I’ll remember these experiences forever. I would like to thank the NCAP program for that. I hope next semester I am working with them again for more joyous fun filled opportunities. Who knows- maybe I’ll pick up silversmithing next semester ;)