The American Southwest is characterized by environmentally and culturally diverse landscapes, which include the northern Rio Grande valley as it cuts through north-central New Mexico from Taos to Albuquerque. The region has a long and rich history of anthropological research primarily focused on the archaeological remains found along this valley corridor. Only recently has research involving large-scale surveys and excavations been conducted on the nearby mesas and mountains that form the rugged margins of the river valley. From Mountain Top to Valley Bottom incorporates this new research into a perspective that links the ever-changing and complementary nature of lowland and upland land use.
The essays in this collection are unified by three specific themes: landscape, movement, and technology. Landscape involves the ecological backdrop of the northern Rio Grande valley, including past and present environments. Movement refers to the positioning of people across the landscape along with the dynamic and fluid nature with which people—past and present—view their relationship with the “above” and “below.” Technology not only refers to the tools and facilities that past people may have used but to the organization of labor needed to cooperatively exploit a variety of subsistence resources and the exchange of products across the region. This volume provides both a cross section of current research from expert scholars and a broad perspective that seeks to integrate new data from lowland and upland contexts. From Mountain Top to Valley Bottom will appeal to those interested in obsidian source studies, geoarchaeology, past climatic regimes, foraging societies, early agriculture, ceramic technology, subsistence, early village formation, ethnogenesis, and historic multiethnic economies.
In the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado, there thrives a folk tradition with links to both the past and future.
Colcha embroidery is a traditional Spanish colonial style of textile, bed covering, or wall hanging dating from the early nineteenth century. In the first book to consider this craft, Suzanne MacAulay provides a detailed account of this folk art tradition that is both old and constantly renewing itself, presenting a sensitive portrayal of artists and the contexts in which they live and work.
Stitching Rites reveals how art, history, and memory interweave in a rich creative web. Based on archival research and on extensive interviews with artists, the book reveals the personal motivations of the embroiderers and their relationships with their work, with each other, with their community, and with outsiders. Through stitchers like Josephine Lobato and the San Luis Ladies Sewing Circle, MacAulay shows how colcha creation is bound up in a perpetual round of cultural commentary and self-reflection.
MacAulay includes detailed descriptions of changes in stitching techniques, themes, and styles to show the impact of a wide range of outside influences on the lives of the artists and on the art form. She also provides a discussion of New Mexican Carson colchas and their place in the collector market. By focusing on the individual creative act, she shows how colcha embroidery is used to record how a stitcher's memories of her life are intertwined with the history of her community.
Through this picture of a community of embroiderers, MacAulay helps us to understand their stitching rites and sheds new light on the relationship between Hispanic and Anglo cultures.