What got me interested in these origins was wondering about the geometric motifs I recently viewed in "Lines on the Horizon: Native American Art from the Weisel Family Collection," at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco. That was not long after "Quilts and Color The Pilgrim/Roy Collection," at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston [see post on 6/29/14].
Among the Navajo, weaving developed as an expressive art to conserve the stories the people told and the ceremonies they performed. According to the Navajo elders Roseann S. Willink and Paul G. Zolbrod interviewed for Weaving a World: Textiles and the Navajo Way of Seeing, no matter how abstract a pattern may seem to others, it derives from what they experience over time. The weavers told them, "We weave what we see."
If you see a square, do you think it's imparting a message of some kind? If so, what? How about a circle? Is it it indicating infinity or a celestial orb? What associations do you make with triangles?
If you create abstract art, do you use geometric shapes consciously to represent something or do they emerge as unconscious reflections that you recognize later?