Diné, b. 1994
jaatłoh4Ye’iitsoh no. 5-6, 2020
Muslin, mixed fabrics, polyester fill, faux fur, synthetic hair, artist’s hair, churro wool, churro yarn, tin cone jingles
Collection of the artist
The title of Eric-Paul Riege’s commissioned works jaatłoh4Ye’iitsoh no. 1-6 (2020) translates from Diné into English as “Earrings for Big God,” a spelling stylization of both languages by the artist. The monumental soft sculptures depict three pairs of earrings hanging in the room, suspended from the ceiling. Each is a different style: a set of dentalium shell earrings, a pair of turquoise jaclas, and a set of hoop earrings hybridized with the najahe (crescent) design found in the squash blossom motif. All are composed of mass-produced materials purchased at fabric and novelty stores. Muslin, polyester fill, faux furs and synthetic hair are inexpensive and easily attainable materials. Riege has also incorporated his own body into the works by collecting his shed hair to serve as the black veining in the fabric turquoise beads. These works are partly autobiographical for Riege, who references Diné practices of working in textile and woven material as well as Indigenous jewelry making and trade. By creating jewelry that reads visually as inherently “Native” out of ordinary materials like muslin and polyester fill, he claims ownership of representation and fights against a colonial commodification of Native jewelry, knowledge and visual vocabularies.
Eric-Paul Riege (Diné) is a weaver and fiber artist finding presence in his mind, body, and beliefs through collage, durational performance, installation, woven sculpture, and wearable art. Riege’s weavings pay homage and link him to generations of weavers in his family and exist as living things that aid him in generating sanctuary spaces of welcome. His work is a celebration and study of being of Hózhó/Diné philosophy that encompasses beauty, balance, goodness, and harmony in all things physical, mental, and spiritual and its bearing on everyday experience. His work, which he describes as being “encompassed in the threads of weaving and life,” creates an immersive and charged space influenced by ceremonial sites, dwellings, and rituals. Riege’s work has been included in numerous exhibitions, including the SITE Santa Fe biennial, National Hispanic Cultural Center, the Navajo Nation Museum, and a solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami.