Moab History: Profiling Two [More] Modern Basket Weavers

The Moab Museum is proud to display ten striking Diné (Navajo)-woven baskets through the end of the current temporary exhibition. The baskets are on loan from the Twin Rocks Trading Post in Bluff, UT. In this week’s column we explore two of the weavers whose work is featured this month at the Museum. Check out last week’s column for profiles on two weavers also featured in this exhibit. 

Elsie Holiday

Elsie Stone Holiday grew up weaving traditional rugs and married Peter Holiday, the brother of Mary Holiday Black. She explains: 

“When I married into the Holiday family, I didn’t know anything about basket weaving. So, I watched them weave and I got interested in it and I wanted to try it. My first basket actually came out good. It was fun, so I decided to do it, and do it, and do it, and now I can’t stop!” 

Elsie is a prolific weaver renowned for her technical precision and creativity. She finds inspiration in many different forms of art, from modern paintings to historic Diné (Navajo) rugs and can translate these designs into a basket. Elsie has also made a specialty of weaving oval baskets that allow her to portray faces and a variety of vessels, often reproducing the same pattern in different shapes. Her pieces are some of the most spectacular of the Diné basket revolution.

“Changing Woman” by Peggy Black, on loan from The Twin Rocks Trading Post, Bluff, UT.

Peggy Black

Born into a family of weavers, Peggy Rock Black learned about weaving and making vegetal dyes from her mother, grandmother, and sister Evelyn Rock Cly. When Peggy married one of Mary Holiday Black’s sons, she joined another family of iconic weavers. Peggy is a master of weaving pictorial designs and pioneered “collage” baskets that bring together multiple images in sometimes unexpected combinations. 

She weaves contemporary baskets but leans toward traditional Diné (Navajo) designs of balance. “I’m really careful with what I weave,” she says. She often weaves in a hogan next to her house and her husband helps her collect and prepare sumac for her baskets. She has a strong belief in the healing power of sumac and wants to impart a positive, healing balance in her baskets. Peggy has won many awards at shows at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff and at the Gallup Ceremonials in New Mexico.


To learn more about the artists visit the Natural History Museum of Utah’s Collections Page which highlights Diné weavers highlighted in this collection. 

The Moab Museum is dedicated to sharing stories of the natural and human history of the Moab area. To explore more of Moab’s stories and artifacts, find out about upcoming programs, and become a Member, visit www.moabmuseum.org.

This article was originally published in the Moab Sun News in our weekly Moab History Column.