SAN LUIS VALLEY — An exhibit opening Thursday at the Arvada Center focuses a traditional fiber art form brought to New Mexico and Southern Colorado by Spanish colonists — and still practiced today.
“Colcha Embroidery of the San Luis Valley” includes the work of 34 multi-generational artists from Colorado’s south-central counties and is on display through November 12.
Patsy Garcia, The Turtle Storyteller, 2023. Wool on cotton.
Image courtesy of Patsy Garcia and The Range.
Nine of the 47 colcha embroidery pieces were unearthed from storage this year within the Arvada Center’s collection.
They were previously thought to be missing after a 1982 fiber arts exhibition at the Arvada Center, “Artists of the San Luis Valley.” The 1982 exhibit featured colcha embroidery work from many of the region’s prominent working colcha embroidery artists and was organized in part by the Virginia Neal Blue Resource Center for Colorado Women, a Denver foundation that centered rural economic opportunity by attempting to create and bolster local cottage industries.
The exhibit book from the 1982 program at the Arvada Center.
Artists and their families say they were not invited to the 1982 show, and in fact didn’t know it had taken place. In 1983, at least nine of the colcha embroidery works from the show were purchased by the Arvada Center from the Virginia Neal Blue group. Just this spring, Exhibition Manager and Associate Curator Emily Grace King happened to find a box containing the wrapped works.