Sterling silver adjustable cuff bracelet with red coral
The lyrically swirling beauty of Veronica Poblano’s jewelry is so striking that it is almost irresistible to seek some explanation for it in the New Mexican landscape where the Zuni artist grew up. Is she drawing inspiration from the circular sweep of birds over the mesa? Does her work capture the way desert winds stretch clouds into thin, curving bands? If Zuni Pueblo were not in the middle of some of the driest land in the country, you might think that water was the pervasive influence on Poblano’s fluid way with metal and stone. And though unlikely, that would be true.
“About five years ago, I went to the Northwest on a cultural and artistic exchange between Southwest and Northwest artists,” says Poblano of a trip she made to the western coast of Canada. “Everything there was so beautiful and green, and there was so much water. I visited the islands off the coast, and a sacred island of the Haida people.” Poblano’s experience of the Haida in their lush environment proved life-transforming. Feeling deep parallels between the Haida reverence for life and buried memories of the profoundly purposeful existence she associated with her people, Poblano experienced—even at a great physical distance from her Zuni origins—an overwhelming communion with her past. Most specifically with the spirit of her father, who died when she was just 8 years old.
“The presence of my father was so vivid and clear in this place,” she says. “It made me think about where I come from and where I’m going. I realized then that my life had a beginning and has an end, and that I was placed here for a reason—to finish where my father left off.”
As a result of this spiritual and artistic awakening, Poblano felt her father’s spirit merge with images of water she saw around her, together forming a single, deep resource of creativity. “I realized that my new artistic life was just beginning,” says Poblano. “My old designs were more horizontal and vertical. Now my designs are more elaborate, fluid, and they emphasize movement. My pieces have a lot of movement, because life is like that.
Poblano began making necklaces that circle three quarters of the way around the neck, anchored at either end by constellations of polished stones…
Featured in August 2007