National Heritage Fellowships Won by Two New Mexico Artists

Eva Encinias founded the National Flamenco Institute in 1982 and was a dance teacher at the University of New Mexico. (Courtesy of the National Endowment for the Arts)

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced that two artists from New Mexico have won 2022 National Heritage Fellowships.

Albuquerque flamenco artist Eva Encinias and Shiprock Navajo/Diné weaver TahNibaa Naataanii each received the highest national honor in folk and traditional arts.

“In their artistic practices, NEA National Heritage Fellows tell their own stories on their own terms. They pass on their skills and knowledge to others through mentoring and teaching,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, president of the National Endowment for the Arts. “These honorees not only continue the cultural history of their art form and their community, they also enrich our nation as a whole.”

The two recipients from New Mexico were part of a group of 10 artists recognized across the country.

Born into a family of flamenco dancers and artists, Encinias continues the tradition through her teaching and performance, and through the National Institute of Flamenco, which she founded in 1982. She continues to lead its artistic programming .

A retired dance teacher at the University of New Mexico, Encinias learned to dance within her own family and at her mother’s dance academy.

TahNibaa Naataanii is the 2022 recipient of the Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship. (Courtesy of the National Endowment for the Arts)

Inspired by wool and her grandmother’s carding tools, Naataanii’s curiosity inspired a lifelong love for weaving. Naataanii is also recognized as a gifted and prolific mentor and teacher of the holistic practice of Diné weaving – from raising sheep to harvesting and dyeing wool, and through the complex techniques of developing and weaving textiles on a loom.

Naataanii is the 2022 recipient of the Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship, presented in recognition of an individual who has made a significant contribution to the preservation and awareness of cultural heritage.

Her work is an array of intricately woven garments and artwork that vary in color, shape, pattern and design. Some of her weaves follow “traditional” patterns – shoulder pads and ponchos – while others include abstract and contemporary designs. Her weavings have won numerous awards in the art markets and juried art exhibitions. Naataanii is dedicated to revitalizing traditional Navajo textile weaving with apprentices and students from the Diné community, as well as educating the public about the culture and traditions of Navajo weaving.

Each scholarship includes a $25,000 prize and all recipients will be featured in a film that will premiere in November 2022 on arts.gov. Through the film, viewers will have the opportunity to visit the homes and communities where Fellows live and work, providing a connection to the distinct art forms and traditions that these artists practice.

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