Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
Future Tradition: Melissa Cody, is a solo exhibition of recent work by the Navajo artist. Cody is a fourth-generation weaver from a family known for excellence in the traditional Navajo art. Like her contemporaries and weavers before her, Cody designs her pieces on a stand-up loom as she weaves, incorporating precise geometric forms and recognizable graphic elements, such as the yeii or Rainbow Person, who symbolizes protection, or a cross to represent Spider Woman, the giver and teacher of weaving to the Navajo. Unlike any other, however, Cody imbues her pieces with a stirring graphic vitality and personal voice, emerging as perhaps the most exciting young textile artist of today.
Instead of working in the muted natural tones of vegetable-dyed wool, Cody works primarily in the vibrant and saturated colors of commercially dyed wool yarns, a palette that connects her work to the Germantown Revival. This movement stemmed from a flowering of artistic growth in Navajo weaving during a period of extreme duress—the forced migration and internment of Navajo at Bosque Redondo in the 1860s. Interned weavers repurposed the brightly dyed wool that was commercially produced in Germantown, Pennsylvania, from the blankets provided to them in Bosque Redondo. Composing intricate patterns in bright colors, they nicknamed these textiles eye dazzlers. Cody has taken this style a step further, weaving with tight precision, and combining colors of intense saturation and contrast into strong graphic compositions that can be compared with mid-century Op Art or, more apropos of Cody’s own age and experience, with the heavy digital pixilation of 1980s video games.
Cody’s work is at once deeply personal and an expression of her cultural context. Her personal joys and sorrows are reflected in works that communicate her emotional processes, from the complex compositions of pattern and iconography to the more recent inclusion of song lyrics.
Exhibition overview from museum website