North-American artist Melissa Cody featured at MASP the exhibition Webbed Skies, with curatorship of Isabella Rjeille and Ruba Katrib.


Melissa Cody works with weaving, combining traditional Navajo tapestry symbols and patterns with references ranging from the pop universe of video games to the landscapes of her homeland in Arizona. The Navajo—also known as Diné—are the Indigenous people who live in the southwestern region of the United States, encompassing the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. In the Navajo worldview, weaving is a technology taught by the sacred figure of Na’ashjéii Asdzáá, the Spider Woman. An heir to this ancient knowledge, Cody is also part of the fourth generation of textile artists in her family.


History, cultural exchanges, commercial exploitation, and processes of forced migration influenced the symbols, colors, materials, and techniques of Navajo weaving. Using vigorous patterns and colors, Cody’s works are associated with the Germantown Revival movement, which emerged after the tragic episode known as the “Long Walk” (1863–68). With the aim of expelling the Navajo people from their territory, the military burned their homes and destroyed their sheep herds, forcing them to march from Arizona to New Mexico, imprisoning them in a military camp in a documented attempt of genocide. In the process, the weavers devised strategies to continue working, unraveling the blankets the military gave them and using their yarn for weaving. The inclusion of this type of commercial wool with vibrant colors produced in Germantown, Pennsylvania, opened new horizons of experimentation in this context of confinement, becoming crucial to Navajo cultural resistance.

The title of this exhibition is drawn from a work by Cody entitled Under Cover of Webbed Skies (2021), which addresses the history of Navajo weaving, its ancient territory, and the conveying of Spider Woman’s knowledge through generations. The sky is common element to all territories, existing beyond any geographical or political border. Like a large blue blanket hovering over every single being below it, Cody’s webbed skies extend beyond Navajo territory, connecting different narratives and subjects in creating and reclaiming memories and histories, knowledges and ways of making.

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