Marilou Schultz

Marilou Schultz, Untitled (2008), wool, 250 × 120 cm, courtesy Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City

In 1994, Marilou Schultz, an acclaimed Navajo weaver and educator, was commissioned by the Intel corporation in Rio Rancho, New Mexico to weave a replica of a printed circuit board. Schultz began weaving at the age of seven, following a tradition in her family that spans more than five generations. Navajo weavings are handmade on a simple upright wooden loom. Patterns are not laid out in advance, but rather are deliberately created in variegated wool as the weaver works up the weaving, thread by thread. Fourteen years later, the Nerman Museum commissioned Schultz to produce another weaving of a computer chip. Schultz is known for her “diversity” weavings that incorporate non-symmetrical designs. The computer chip weavings, unbeknownst to Schultz, recall the role of Navajo women laborers, employed in the manufacture of integrated circuits, diodes, and other computer component manufacture, in the Fairchild Industries factory in Shiprock, New Mexico that operated from 1965–75 on the Navajo Reservation. In early marketing materials, the company expressed that they saw an analogous relationship between the skills and aesthetics of Navajo weaving—largely practiced by women—and computer chips.

—Candice Hopkins

Posted in Public Exhibition