Kathleen Wall, Singing a Good Song, 15 x 71⁄2 x 7.
By Lynn Pyne
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. Winners receive a cash award and a booth at Indian Market. Generous contributions enabled SWAIA to offer seven.
Kathleen Wall comes from a long line of Pueblo potters, including her mother, Fannie Loretto, who gave Wall her first handful of clay. As a child, Wall made clay storyteller babies. As a teenager, she made full-size storytellers and other figures before beginning her studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.
Today she lives in Jemez Pueblo and works with natural clay from the area. “It takes a lot of effort to work in natural clay. I have to dig the clay and the pumice, also dig slip for paints,” she writes. “Then I have to clean and process them. To know how to do this and love it is a gift my mother gave to me and her mother gave to her. This is something I don’t ever want to lose.”
Wall’s black/brown- and-white-striped figures are clownlike and spread good cheer. She wants to create more sculptures of Pueblo women and is interested in exploring new techniques and mediums. The new studio that she is building will enable her to do that.
Fellowship donated by Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc.
Jason Harvey, Germantown Revival Weaving, 54 x 371⁄2.
Jason Harvey’s grandmother Dorothy Harvey taught him the basics of weaving, and his aunt, Mary H. Yazzie, taught him to thread-count a storm-pattern design. Jed Foutz of Shiprock Trading Company taught him about the different Navajo regional styles, color concepts, and designs. While participating in a museum exhibition, Harvey met other male weavers who taught him about preparing natural wool, and now he shears, cards, and spins his own wool.
At age 25, Harvey already has developed considerable versatility, yet he seeks greater knowledge: He wants to learn to weave twill rugs, sandpainting rugs, round rugs, and double-faced weaves. He hopes to travel to different regions of the Navajo reservation to learn techniques, and he wants to spend time at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe studying traditional blankets in the collection.
Ultimately, Harvey seeks to preserve the weaving tradition by teaching others what he has learned. Already, thanks to his teaching, some of his aunts are weaving storm-pattern designs.Fellowship donated by Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc.
Karen Lynne Abeita, Birds and Dragonflies, 10 x 11 x 11.
Karen Lynne Abeita
Tewa/Isleta Pueblo Potter
Karen Lynne Abeita often walks through the prehistoric American Indian ruins of Sikatki near her home in Polacca, AZ, and copies designs from the thousands of broken pottery shards lying scattered in the dirt. She tries to imagine how the ancient potter might have felt. Was the potter excited about each new creation? Did everyone come to see it?
Abeita duplicates the ancient designs on her pottery, which is made by faithfully following the traditional methods of her ancestors. She hand-coils a pot and shapes it with her hands and a piece of gourd, then uses a brush made from the yucca plant to apply paint made from the mustard seed plant. Finally she fires the pot outdoors with sheep manure. Respect for the clay and prayer are essential to the act of creation.
To keep the ancient tradition alive, Abeita hopes to publish a book of ancient Sikatki designs, and she also plans to build a studio for teaching pottery techniques to the next generation.
Fellowship donated by Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc.
Donna Shakespeare-Cummings, Star Woman, 18 x 5 x 3
Northern Arapaho dollmaker
Donna Shakespeare-Cummings grew up in a strict traditional household on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. Her father, Tom Shakespeare, taught Northern Arapaho tribal language, stories, and customs to his people during a time when those traditions were in danger of disappearing.
From her father, Shakespeare-Cummings learned about the tribal colors and what they represented, such as red for life and black for joy and beauty. From her mother, she learned the art of beadwork. Through her upbringing, she learned about spiritual awareness and daily prayer.
Today those lessons and life experiences are expressed in her creation of traditional dolls, which are dressed in beaded regalia. Shakespeare-Cummings gets ideas for dress styles from her memories of tribal social dances and from old family photos.
Her dream is to get young children in her tribe interested in their own distinctive family designs and what they represent and to create their own personal style of dress. She wants them to be proud of their heritage and of the craftsmanship and traditions of their ancestors.
Fellowship donated by C. Wesley & Shirley Lingenfelter, Scottsdale, AZ.
When Jamie Okuma was 5, her mother gave her a box of beads that she was no longer using.
Jamie Okuma, Beaded Mountain Lion Head Bag, 7 x 8 x
Okuma knew at that moment that her art career had just begun. The young artist went on to find artistic inspiration in the historic Plateau and Great Basin beadworkers and the Eastern Woodland quillworkers. “It amazes me,” she writes, “that the old-time bead- and quillworkers created such incredible works without the modern conveniences that I take for granted, such as art tables, rulers, tracing paper, and fine-point pens. Their sense of color and design was extraordinary.”
Now 22 and living on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in San Diego County, Okuma focuses on traditional beadwork, quillwork, and dollmaking. She first applied to Indian Market two years ago, was accepted, and won a first-place award and two second-place awards. She has had similar successes since then. Okuma will attend the Institute of American Indian Arts in the fall, and the SWAIA fellowship will help her purchase art and school supplies.
Fellowship donated by Randy Chitto Pottery, Santa Fe, NM.
Anthony Chee Emerson, My Family, 18 x 24.
Anthony Chee Emerson
After studying art and printmaking in college, Anthony Chee Emerson became a painter of homes and commercial buildings for several years before heeding his wife’s encouragement to return to fine art. He has since opened Emerson Gallery, the first Native American fine arts gallery in Farmington, NM, where he exhibits work by himself, his family, and artists of the region.
Emerson’s paintings depict contemporary themes using a variety of colors and abstract elements. The works tell the story of his family life and the beauty of the Navajo people. The often whimsical nature of his work lends itself to illustration of children’s books, which so far have included How the Rattlesnake Got Its Rattle, Songs of Shiprock Fair, and First Fire.
Emerson serves on the boards of the Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise and the Northern New Mexico Arts Council. He hopes in the near future to do more printmaking, launch an Internet site for Emerson Gallery, and introduce printmaking to students (many of whom are Navajo) in area schools.Fellowship donated by Mr. and Mrs. Walter Smoyer, Santa Fe, NM.
Caroline Lucero-Carpio, vase, 13 x 8 x 8.
Isleta Pueblo clay sculptor
In many respects, the graceful lines of Caroline Lucero-Carpio’s clay sculpture represent a balance between the old and new. She expresses her Tiwa heritage through her work but balances the ancestral foundation with a contemporary expression of who she is today. Likewise, her techniques blend the traditional with the modern: She collects and processes natural clays for her hand-coiled pieces and fires them in a pit with cow manure as the fuel. However, she also occasionally uses commercial ingredients and employs modern electric kiln firing.
“We have different ways to pay homage to our creator for our existence. My means of paying the honor is to create something beautiful that comes from Mother Earth, from which we all came,” Lucero-Carpio writes. “I embrace Clay Mother with great respect as she has given me the guidance to find my inner spirituality and connection with the land.”
Lucero-Carpio plans to buy a bigger kiln so she can sculpt in larger scale, and she has also started working in bronze. Fellowship donated by Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc.
Donna Shakespeare-Cummings is represented by Marjorie Cahn Gallery, Los Gatos, CA. Anthony Chee Emerson is represented by Case Trading Post, Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe, NM, and Depart-ment of the Interior Gift Shop, Washington, DC. Caroline Lucero-Carpio is represented by Wright’s Collection of Indian Art, Albuquerque, NM; Rio Street Gallery, Ruidoso, NM; and Duane Maktima Gallery, Santa Fe, NM. Karen Abeita is represented by King Galleries, Scottsdale, AZ, and Adobe East Gallery, Delray Beach, FL, and Summit, NJ.
Featured in “Portfolio” August 2000