Patricia Michaels ~ AKA Water Lily
Contemporary Native American Taos Pueblo Clothing & Textile Designer
“My idea of “green” is really blue. My ideas come from water. When there are obstacles, I go back to my given name Water Lily & things become clear. As Pueblo people, we consider our source Blue Lake. Our water remains pure and clean. Water is wild ~ it deepens canyons & creates rapids. But it is gentle too, at the mercy of wherever it goes, forced to pickup toxins & pesticides. Water is not life ~ giving. Water is life itself.” Patricia Michaels
Patricia has been my friend & client for over 18 years. Ever since I have known her she has been so dedicated to her textiles, her fashions, her work … her art.
This season Patricia has battled it out with other talented designers on the popular reality TV show Project Runway & she is one of the final three contestants. Tonight’s project Runway show will feature the collections of these uber talented three designers & Patricia has a chance to win it all.
People across the state of New Mexico will be bathed in an electric blue glow tonight, all of her well wishers glued to their TV sets & monitors.
I wish her the very Best on Project Runway & Always.
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Pat & I met when our oldest kids were in pre-school together. Soon after we meet I started making images of her & of her work. Her son Gabe was the first boy to kiss my daughter Emily. He was six years old & she was four. Gabe & Emily are still friends to this day, each of them young filmmakers.
This is a portrait that I made of Patricia from that time. I believe I made this image in 1995 or 1996. It was published in an ad for the natural food chain Wild Oats.
It was hard for me to watch Project Runway at times this season. Patricia was treated very poorly by some of the other designers & put down by Nina Garcia way too often for my taste. Thank goodness for designer Zac Posen & model Heidi Klum. They have expressed often that are moved by her unique artistry & voice.
A highlight of the show for me was when the gracious Tim Gunn visited Patricia’s family home at The taos Pueblo & sat to eat with her family & then went to her design studio in town. He was visibly moved & expressed it to Patricia.
One should treat any other human with respect. I don’t think that many knew that Patricia is a very respected woman & artist in Northern New Mexico. Not only did she go to school at The Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, The Art Institute of Chicago but Pat also lived in Venice Italy for sometime.
Patricia is very well educated, of the world, unique, wildly talented, hard working & also a very traditional Taos Pueblo woman. Her quiet calm in the storm of so much negativity on the show helped to make her a fan favorite.
Patricia & I were close when we were each pregnant with our second kids. I remember walking down into the Taos Gorge with Pat to make a portrait of her for an art magazine. We were laughing & talking and every few steps she would toss a rock in front of our path. I asked her why she was doing such a thing. Patricia just smiled at me & said “Rattlesnakes.”
Many of the photos of her work from the mid 90’s until about 2004 were all shot with film.Since I went digital in2004 I have not even looked at a transparency or a negative. Someday soon I will dig into those gems.
This Image is called “Flower Girl” & it was made in 1997. The model is April Winters, Patricia’s cousin. April is holding one of Pat’s textiles around her waist & is covered in fabric flowers. Patricia did the styling of the hair & make-up. When I made this image it was a late summer’s evening in Taos. The mountains had turned purple & flat. I asked my assistant to shine a flashlight in the model’s eyes.
Many years later the state of New Mexico Film office made a bold move & used this image in a full page ad in Variety magazine to advertise the tax incentives for Hollywood film production in New Mexico.
It was powerful for me that a beautiful Native American woman dressed in the fashions of another beautiful, expressed & talented Native American woman was representing this breath taking state, as it should be.
Many “American” people do not have first hand life experience with First Nation or Native American people. I have been blessed to live in Northern New Mexico for twenty years.The history, earth culture, practices, artistry of the many Pueblos & Nations of New Mexico are most of what makes this land so very beautiful. A place hears the prayers of the people.
I have many memories & stories shared with Patricia. We are two women who believe in beauty. The beauty of this earth, the beauty of women & of culture. The moments that we have worked together stay in my heart. We have respect, an understanding & a flow. I want only the best for her & I am thrilled that her years of hard work has now been graced with recognition & success.
We LOVE you Patricia! ~ GO!
“Many moments dance around in recollection of working with the Beautifully talented Jennifer. I say this because I can’t quit pin point how it works, we just dance together as we make the magic happen. After all it is the sensual grace, that we try to bring out in this forever nurturing nature of women. Love & Peace”
Patricia Michaels ~
Native American Contemporary Designer & Textile Artist
~ Project Runway, Season 11
PATRICIA MICHAELS FROM “PROJECT RUNWAY”
ON PARENTING, HER HERITAGE AND STYLE!
Patricia is in my book “I Like My Heroes Real” on Blurb.com