Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Hidden Stories/Human Lives: Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 17th Biennial Symposium, October 15-17, 2020. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/

doi: 10.32873/unl.dc.tsasp.0094


Copyright © 2020 Olimpia Newman & Rebecca Abrams


Colcha embroidery is folk art, characteristic of northern New Mexico history, traditions, and a form of cultural expression that has not been researched and documented sufficiently. It has been practiced in private homes and small circles as a result of commissions or economic development programs, as has also been the case in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Despite the exposure offered by local markets and demonstrations during events in New Mexico, the embroidery is in many ways an unknown technique, even to the next generation.

This video captures a candid discussion among eleven colcha artists, some of whom are entering their eighth decade, about what brought them to this art form, how it makes them feel, and what inspires them. It is entertaining, filled with opinions coming straight from artists, and illustrated with inspiring designs and exquisite craftsmanship.

Initially, the embroidered cloths adorned beds, windows, and ceilings as well as home and church altars. Today, colcha embroidery pieces are part of New Mexico museums’ collections or purchased from the artists during exhibitions. Embroidery circles still meet regularly, and some of the featured artists conduct workshops and teach in schools.

This video gives close-up insight into this art form, and the viewer will gain an understanding and admiration for this folk art, and for the individual interpretations of colcha embroidery expressed by each artist.