ESPANOLA, NEW MEXICO
The Española Valley Fiber Arts Center (EVFAC) was founded in 1995 by a small group of weavers who learned that there were many families in their area who had inherited looms but who had little knowledge of the techniques and heritage of Northern New Mexico textiles practiced by their grandparents. With donated looms and donated space, the group began to teach weaving. Now a 501(c)(3) organization located in an adobe storefront in the historic district of Española, EVFAC offers equipment, classes, a shop with fiber arts books and supplies, and sells artwork by its members.
EVFAC demonstrates the power of raising the commercial value of local indigenous craft by creating a supportive ecosystem for that craft to flourish, and to market its origin story. This movement to protect heritage designs as intellectual property is illustrated by the recent legal battle and eventual license settlement between the Navajo Nation and Urban Outfitters. Heritage design and palettes—such as those used by EVFAC artists—are sometimes listed in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list but are difficult to protect in the legal arena.