Dorothy Trumpold of East Amana, Iowa, has been weaving rugs for nearly 60 years. She watched her grandfather prepare his loom when she was 8 years old in 1920. The Amana Colonies, where she has resided for her entire life, have a unique social and religious history. Settlers of these communities came originally from Germany and were members of the Community of True Inspiration, a Lutheran sect founded in 1714 and based on the belief that God may communicate through an inspired individual. This group moved first to Ebenezer, New York and then traveled to Iowa in 1855 where it established a communal lifestyle in seven villages located on 26,000 acres of farmland. Each village had its own tinsmith, cobbler, basketmaker and furniture maker, while a calico printing factory and two woolen mills served the entire community. This communal way of life, often mistakenly confused with the Amish or Mennonites, existed until 1932, when the residents chose to relinquish their communal forms of property ownership in what is still called "the Great Change." Dorothy Trumpold is one of the few craftspeople left who represents a link with the old way of life. Her rugs and carpets, which she still weaves on a loom brought to America in the 1840s, exhibit her precise sense of design and her striking textural and chromatic sensitivity. Two of her specialties, the whole house carpet and the stairway carpet, require a mastery of the medium and an exacting consistency in execution. Her carpets continue to serve the Amana residents in a functional and artistic sense. She has taken it upon herself to pass along these skills to younger people in the community. She says of her long career: "I never advertised, but somehow people found out and I got busy right away and have been busy ever since."
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency