Susan Hudson (Navajo/Diné)

A woman in traditional dress.

Photo courtesy of artists


Susan Hudson is a multidimensional artist and skilled quilter, who has tapped into her personal struggles and the struggles of her people through her art. Born in East Los Angeles, California, she now lives in Sheep Springs, New Mexico. A member of the Navajo Nation, Hudson’s clans are Towering House People, Apache People, Water Edge People, and Mexican People.

Hudson’s mother, Dorothy Woods, as well as her grandmothers, were forced to learn sewing in boarding schools where there was little tolerance for mistakes. When Hudson was nine years of age, her mother taught her how to sew out of necessity, as they were quite poor and couldn't afford to buy clothes. Hudson learned to alter donated clothes and made quilts out of the scraps. 

Hudson’s quilting became an income stream when she began making Star Quilts for Indian pow wows and giveaways at the request of Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a former U.S. Senator from Colorado. Senator Campbell encouraged her to break away from making traditional star quilts and she soon developed her own artistic voice with contemporary ledger art quilts.

Ledger art is a type of narrative drawing or painting on animal hides, primarily practiced by Plains Indians in the 1860s. Hudson uses a crossover style inspired by ledger art, recounting history through her quilts. She has taken her quilting to a whole new level, serving as an activist storyteller. Her pictorial quilts honor her ancestors and illustrate the proud history of the Navajo people. 

Through quilting, Hudson chronicles the sacrifices and strengths of her family and remembers their hardships. Important pieces in her work include the quilts she has named Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Since 1492 and Walk of My Ancestors: Coming Home, depicting the return from the Long Walk of the Navajos. Hudson also creates quilts that depict the trauma of the boarding schools.

Hudson is a co-founder of the Navajo Quilt Project, which donates fabric to elders all across the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Quilt Project engages with the community, makes quilts for giveaways and traditional ceremonies, and empowers others to start their own businesses. 

Hudson’s quilts have been acquired for collection by the International Quilt Museum, Heard Museum, Autry Western Museum, Riverside Museum, and National Museum of the American Indian. Other acquisitions include the Gochman Collection, the John and Susan Horseman Foundation, and many private collectors.

No longer silenced, the voices of her Indigenous relatives can now be heard through Hudson’s quilt exhibitions around the country. In competition, her quilts have garnered 29 First Place awards, 16 Second Place awards, 6 Third Place awards, 4 Special awards, 12 Best of Division awards, Jackie Autry Purchase, Idyllwild Imagination Art Award, and 5 Best of Show awards.

By Ben Nighthorse Campbell, U.S. Senator - Retired, Northern Cheyenne


Long Walk Of My Ancestors Coming Home. Courtesy of artist


Mmic Robbed Of Their Innocence. Courtesy of artist


Star Amoung The Shunka Wakaan. Courtesy of artist