ROCK MUSIC FILLS CENTINELA TRADITIONAL ARTS, the Chimayó weaving studio and gallery that showcases some of the most acclaimed weavers in the country. Legendary seventh-generation weaver Irvin Trujillo and his celebrated weaver wife, Lisa, met over music in the early 1980s while both were attending the University of New Mexico. Irvin, who played drums in a band, admired Lisa’s eclectic record collection. Their lives have been intricately entwined ever since.
The Trujillos opened the weaving gallery in 1982 to sell their work and represent other Chimayó weavers. Irvin’s late father, Chimayó master weaver Jake Trujillo, was a co-founder of the gallery. Their daughter, Emily, has inherited her parents’ love for looms—and for music.
“We all listen to hyper music when we’re weaving,” says Emily, who helps run the gallery where she grew up learning the art form. “It keeps you enthusiastic.”
Irvin, a huge Santana fan, still plays drums in the band Y. Que, but his real masterpieces draw inspiration from the historic Río Grande–style striped weavings of northern New Mexico. “My father would come home from work when I was about 10 years old and start weaving,” Irvin recalls. When he asked if Irvin wanted to learn, the young boy eagerly jumped at the chance.
“He put a chair next to his loom and did row after row.” A week later, Jake set his son up with a 20-inch loom for a small weaving. “I did that the rest of the summer,” Irvin says.
His work dances with color, design, and details, whether he’s riffing on a historic Saltillo serape—with its recognizable border, field, and center design—or telling a story from his life. In his Video One Chimayó blanket, vibrant colors and geometric shapes appear to dance, conveying a motion that celebrates his band’s first music video. In this way, Irvin preserves tradition while taking it forward, pushing boundaries by filling space in new ways, with fresh patterns and ideas.
His weavings can be found in numerous museum collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and have earned him the Spanish Market Lifetime Achievement Award and the prestigious NEA National Heritage Fellowship.
Each weaver in the Trujillo family braids tradition with the new. “The technique is brought from the old pieces, but then every weaver has their own intellectual understanding of what they can do,” says Lisa, who spins churro wool into yarn for her textured tapestries and blankets. The yarn provides a pathway into each piece, through color. “I sit with yarn a lot,” she says.
Emily also follows new threads, for instance by incorporating big diagonals in a piece. “I’ll occasionally weave a very traditional piece that my ancestors have done, but I like to add a more modern twist,” she says. “So that I can have my ideas that I can pass on to the younger generation.”
Although Emily lives in Albuquerque with her husband, the artistic trio remains tight, keeping a watchful eye on one another’s looms and occasionally serving up advice over family dinners. “We learn from each other,” Lisa says. “We help each other develop ideas. We’re all pushing each other.”