Thanks to the generosity of Ohio University alumnus and museum namesake Edwin L. Kennedy, Ohio University possesses a unique and culturally significant collection of Southwest Native American art.
The Kennedy Museum of Art’s Edwin L. and Ruth E. Kennedy Southwest Native American Collection includes nearly 700 textiles and over 2400 jewelry items of predominantly Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni origin. The collection also includes a small number of objects of varied tribal origin, including basketry and ceramics.
Perhaps the most unique feature of the Kennedy Museum’s collection is the series of Navajo sandpainting textiles that Edwin Kennedy commissioned with the assistance of Red Rock Trading Post owners Troy and Edith Kennedy over nearly four decades. Approximately three-fourths of the over one hundred sandpainting textiles in his collection were executed by Red Rock area weavers Despah Nez and her two daughters, Anna Mae Tanner and Alberta Thomas. Nez produced 21, Tanner executed 25, and Thomas made 27 of the weavings. The collection includes the sandpainting designs used in six traditional ceremonial healing practices: the Beautyway, Waterway, Bead Chant, Great Star Chant, Hailway, and Coyoteway. It is, by all accounts, the largest single collection of sandpainting textiles in existence.