RHIANNON GRIEGO SITS IN White Sands National Park, working the strings and pedals of her loom in time with her heartbeat. The gypsum dunes, bathed in the lambent rays of the setting sun, serve as her studio—and inspiration. Her hands move methodically as she surveys her surroundings, incorporating the landscape, fauna, and flora into her work, both as raw material and as colors, shapes, and patterns.

“Something I find powerful is to work with materials that come from the land where my family has been for generations,” says Griego, who has Spanish and Tohono O’odham ancestry. “It’s a silent form of communication. It feels like I tap into their stories.”

Born in California, Griego moved to Santa Fe in 2020 after learning from a family history that her ancestors were New Mexico weavers. “My father traced his fingers down to some of the names and said, ‘See, it’s in your bloodline,’ ” she says.

Her fine art tapestries and woven tunics, capes, and dresses have geometric roots. Photograph courtesy of Rhiannon Griego.

Griego took up weaving on a whim a decade ago and learned the Japanese Saori style, which embraces the ethos of wabi-sabi, a philosophy and aesthetic that accepts imperfection and welcomes contentment with what is. “I don’t function in rigidity,” she says. “The philosophies of Saori are graceful. We have to have fun in what we’re doing.”

Her fine art tapestries and woven tunics, capes, and dresses have geometric roots. In one of her wearable works, bold stripes of coral and light blue rectangles are set against a black background. The peaceful flow of her shapes and colors helps Griego’s weavings feel like riffs on tradition that incorporate elements of Indigenous textiles. But there’s innovation there too.

She can spend 60 to 70 hours a week in her studio off Santa Fe’s Upper Canyon Road. Sometimes Griego puts her two-harness Saori floor loom in the back of her Volkswagen and heads out to weave in plein air at places like Plaza Blanca, near Abiquiú. “It’s a holy experience,” she says. “When I am in the environment, there’s a sense of communion.”

Rhiannon Griego weaving at White Sands National Park. Photograph courtesy of Rhiannon Griego.

It’s no small task to hike into the wilderness with a two-foot-wide, 30-pound loom in tow. But Griego says the experience and inspiration are well worth the effort. “There’s nothing like having my loom in a color palette that moves me,” she says. “I sit there and create music with the landscape.”

In April, Santa Fe’s Faust Gallery will present Griego’s first-ever solo exhibition, featuring a new series of fine art pieces that incorporate materials from her ancestral lands, including yucca and agave fibers, churro wool, and bear grass.

“Life is a tapestry, and I am integrated in it,” she says. “With all the chapters of my young life, I look at them as threads of experience. I am weaving my life together. It’s a long, long-standing tradition that I feel so honored and surprised to be a part of.”

Read more: Jennifer Berg weaves Navajo culture into every one of her knitting designs.

April 12–30
Faust Gallery, 114 E. Palace Ave., Santa Fe; 480-200-4290.