In a moving testament of lifelong friendship, an anonymous donor has gifted NPC Friends and Family with an exquisite, large and unusual Navajo rug. The donor was a college friend of late NPC District Governing Board member Pres Winslow, who passed away suddenly in June 2016.
Betsyann Wilson with the donated Charlene Laughing Navajo rug. Wilson with the Charlene Laughing Navajo Rug. In a note that arrived with the rug, the donor explained, “It was a piece that Pres had admired, and it had been my intention to have it go to him. Pres was so committed to the welfare of others, and his scholarship is a way of lessening the loss to those of us who knew him by strengthening his amazing legacy. How invisible our rural areas in the U.S. are and how our young there are left out.
Community college is an extraordinary resource for these young ones, and for those who are older.”
Friends & Family Executive Director Betsyann Wilson, a lifelong admirer of Navajo weaving, was familiar with the artist’s name: Charlene Laughing. “She is a multiple-award winning weaver,” says Wilson, “but this rug, which the donor purchased in 2002, has to be among the finest she has produced, because of its exclusive design.” In an unusual “sampler” style, it combines four distinctive rugs into one large, complete piece, measuring 44”x 68.5”. The donor acquired the rug at the New Mexico State Fair, where it had won a blue ribbon. It is mounted on a hand-carved New Mexican hanger, suitable for display on a wall.
Upon recommendation from certified appraisers, Wilson contacted Garland’s Navajo Rugs in Sedona.
In business since 1976, the family-owned gallery has a reputation among weavers and buyers alike for their honesty and integrity. After reviewing photos of the rug, Garland’s contacted Charlene Laughing herself. She remembered the rug and said if she would sell it in today’s market, she would ask $8,000.
Wilson will honor the donor’s desire that the rug be sold at auction, and that proceeds be added to the Pres Winslow Memorial Scholarship, which provides $1,000 per semester to graduates of Winslow High School who are enrolled at NPC.
The auction will run on eBay from November 27 – December 15, and the rug will be on display in the Cinder Block Court hallway at the historic La Posada Hotel, 303 East Second Street in Winslow from November 15 – December 15.
To learn more about the auction, or the Pres Winslow Memorial Scholarship, including how to donate or apply, please contact Wilson by email or (928) 536-6245.
Charlene Laughing sold her first rug to a trading post near her birthplace of Crystal, New Mexico at the age of eight, according to her online bio on Art of The People. Her mother, Mona Laughing, is also an award-winning weaver, taking the 2009 “Best of Weaving” prize at the world-famous Santa Fe Indian Market.
While Charlene works in many colors, including vibrant reds and blues, she prefers natural dyes that she makes herself from vegetal sources including onion skins, teas and coffee. She has sold her work worldwide, and shown her rugs at venues such as the Museum of Northern Arizona, the Heard Museum, and the Arizona State Museum’s Southwest Indian Art Fair, where she received two awards of excellence in 2009 for her “Germantown Men’s Wearing Blanket” and her “Crystal Rug.” .