Each year, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts honors a select group of artists with fellowships based on artistic excellence and a written application in which the artists discuss their work and goals. Honorees receive a cash award and a booth at Indian Market. Generous contributions enabled SWAIA to offer six fellowships this year.
D. Andrew Rodriguez
D. Andrew Rodriguez
Laguna Pueblo Clay sculptor
Rodriguez attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, studying sculpture under renowned sculptor Allan Houser. “Houser was a great artist, teacher, and wonderful, gentle man who taught me to find my own path in sculpture and stay humble,” says Rodriguez. He received his bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of New Mexico.
Although he works in various styles, Rodriguez is particularly interested in bas-relief sculpture done in terra-cotta clay and acrylic polymer. “My primary focus is on the spiritual aspects of the New Mexico Pueblo’s dance and culture,” he says. “My imagery attempts to provide a simple yet strong statement of spiritual emergence found in Pueblo dance, religion, and beliefs.”
One bit of guidance that Houser passed on to his student was to give viewers only part of the story and let them finish the rest. “Emerging and receding the figure in my works allows the viewer to participate in finishing the story with their own sense of emotion and visualization,” Rodriguez says. “Hopefully my work conveys timelessness by expressing the ancient, the present, and the future.”
Blending traditional and contemporary styles, Begay is interested in investigating new dyeing techniques that make use of indigenous plants and in exploring new designs and weaving techniques. “I apply the same Navajo weaving techniques handed down by my ancestors to fashion weavings that incorporate my original artistic images,” she says. “I am constantly experimenting to obtain different colors and integrate these hand-dyed color yarns into my rugs.” Begay’s experiments include extracting color from plants, roots, barks, berries, leaves, flowers, and clay.
Begay learned basic weaving techniques from her mother and grandmother. As a child, she watched her grandmother, Desbah Nez, dye a batch of wool “to obtain beautiful pollen yellow,” she says. “At the time I thought she had magic hands. She is still alive, and I feel that I am walking in her footsteps making and using the beautiful colors she taught me.”
San Carlos Apache
Goseyun describes his tightly rendered, large-scale portraits in one word: “real.” His photo-realistic pencil drawings “give the world insight to a culture that has been around since the days of hunters and gatherers,” he says. “They show ordinary people Native Americans living in the moment.” His subjects are mainly family, friends, and acquaintances from the San Carlos Apache reservation.
Goseyun began draw-ing in junior high school and as a youth won numerous awards for his work. But his mother died when he was 16, and he lost his focus. Many years later, in 1997, Goseyun de-cided he was “ready to return to the art world and give it another try.” He entered his drawings in a fair and won best of show and since then has received further honors, including best of show at the Fountain Hills Native American Artist Invitational in Arizona last year.
“In pencil, I try to capture the dignity, elegance, and beauty of my people and culture,” says Goseyun. “Hopefully, my work will capture our traditions and freeze them in time.”
Nez, a full-blooded Navajo, grew up in California and began her college career majoring in natural science, intending to go into medicine. But she eventually switched paths, moving to Santa Fe to study printmaking at the Institute of American Indian Arts. As her studies progressed, she became interested in working with clay. “I found I had a natural inclination toward clay, especially throwing pots,” she says. “Early on, I developed a respect for the functionality of clay and immersed myself in learning the intricate technology of high-fire ceramics.”
Nez makes wheel-thrown, functional stoneware pots that are glazed on the inside surfaces and gas-kiln fired to 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit. “I hand-paint the exterior surfaces with a mineral paint using motifs taken from pottery from Anasazi sites in northern Arizona and Mim-bres sites in southern New Mexico, which fuses into the clay upon firing,” she says.
Her artistic goal is to continue producing utilitarian work “with a unique and aesthetic bent, maintaining and elaborating on the Anasazi and Mimbres decorative motifs,” she says.
Anna Begay Tahbo
Anna Begay Tahbo
Although she taught herself to quilt just four years ago, Tahbo has already received numerous awards for her work, including best of show at the Navajo Nation Fair and best of division at the Santa Fe Indian Market. Although the nearest fabric store is 100 miles from her home, she finds inspiration on the journey. “As I walk into the fabric store, the smell and beauty of the fabric is overwhelming. Just being there is inspiring,” she says. “As I’m driving home, I am inspired by images of living objects that surround me daily. I visualize vivid colors of the threads that flow through the many beautiful pieces of fabric, creating patterns of love and life in my art quilting.”
Tahbo enjoys the challenge of her work—“cutting and sewing, piece by piece.” After completing the quilt top, she puts the top, batting, and quilt backing together. “I place the quilt on a quilting frame and start hand quilting another design on the quilt,” she says, “stitch by stitch, with love and respect.”
Santo Domingo Pueblo Jeweler
Growing up at Santo Domingo Pueblo, Lovato learned the art of making jewelry from his parents. His father, Mariano Lovato, was a silversmith, and his mother, Reyes Lovato, made high-quality turquoise, heishi, and inlay pendant necklaces. “The origin of my work stems from the history of my people, and my inlay shell necklaces developed from the jewelry that my mother made,” says Lovato.
Lovato is interested in making distinctive, unique jewelry using the best materials possible. “I work slowly, carefully, and deliberately, giving attention to every detail,” he says. He is often inspired by ideas that come to him in dreams. “The next day I can hardly wait to start work on my new ideas,” he says.
A frequent award winner at Santa Fe Indian Market, Lovato last year earned ribbons there for a heishi and olive-shell fetish necklace and for a necklace, earring, bracelet, and hairpin set that used natural turquoise inlay on abalone shell. Currently, Lovato’s work is on view in a solo exhibit at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston, IL, through August 18.
Featured in August 2001