Norma Medina earns the 2022 Masters Award for Lifetime Achievement

BY DEVON JACKSON Photos by Kitty Leaken



Santa Fe New Mexican


Lifetime Achievement

There are no fewer than 67 — yes, 67— weavers in Norma Medina’s family. Mostly women and a few men. When you come from as long and as distinguished a line of weavers as Medina does — a family tradition that stretches back to the 1600s — learning the art form is almost to be expected. Medina’s mother was Epifania “Eppie” Archuleta, who earned the Traditional Spanish Market Masters Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2001, a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1985 and many other honors. Medina’s grandmother Agueda Salazar Martínez (Doña Agueda) was also a renowned weaver. Eppie’s sister Cordelia Coronado was another Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Medina is a veteran of 40 or so markets and is the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award winner. The award is the market’s highest honor. so for the income. “I had five kids in college, and we needed money,” says Medina. “Then I decided I liked the idea of weaving and pleasing someone who liked it. In time, it became what I wanted to do.” Still, she thought of her mother and grandmother, constantly at their looms. “My mom was always working. She passed away weaving on her loom. And I said, ‘I’ll never be like my mom.’ Then, guess what?” After getting grandfathered into the market during Ronald Reagan’s first term as president, Medina has become a legend in her own right — known especially for her glowing colors and the signature borders surrounding her pictorial weavings. “Weaving is a tradition,” she explains. “But what you design and create is your identity. It’s whatever you feel. And even though I can’t draw, I’m going to do what I want to do. How you put it on the loom — it’s who you are. I tell people, ‘Don’t let other people tell you what to do.’” Her tenacity may come from growing up with six brothers or living among such weaving giants, or it might be an inheritance from centuries of ancestors surviving in the San Luis Valley along the New Mexico–Colorado state line. Spanish settlers brought sheep to the region in the 16th century and weaving soon became part of the culture — and part of the lives of Medina’s ancestors. it is a nice feeling. Being there with the other artists. It’s kind of like a big family. It’s part of your heritage.” She looks forward to being around fellow artists at the market again. “First COVID-19, then my daughter passing away,” says Medina. “I’ve been in darkness for a while. But my weaving has been my tranquilizer. Market has helped me come back to life.” Santa Fe writer Devon Jackson has contributed to “The New York Times,” “Outside” and “Rolling Stone.” He is a former editor of “The Santa Fean.”