As a child in the Chimayo region of New Mexico, Helen Lucero ('74) played on her grandparents' large treadle loom. She prepared the rags and filled the spindles with yarn so they could weave blankets and runners. She didn't weave again until she was an art student at UNT, where she also pursued her studies in art museums and the Spanish language. The result was a groundbreaking career as a curator of Hispanic arts and an expert in Chimayo weaving. She received the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts as a Major Contributor in the Arts from the state of New Mexico earlier this year.
"This award was a true validation of the significance of my career," Lucero, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident says.
She was one of the first female Hispanic curators in the country, working in several positions at major museums, including the Smithsonian's American Art Museum. She also co-wrote the book Chimayo Weaving: The Transformation of a Tradition. And it all began on that loom many years ago.
"I loved seeing a pattern emerge, the combination of colors and how they could be made to mimic nature," she says. "The medium fit my sensibilities: intricate, methodical and rhythmic."