Kristen Dorsey is an accomplished Chickasaw artist and silversmith. For Kristen, jewelry is more than just ornamental adornment; it is a medium with which she has forged her cultural identity. Looking to her cultural heritage, her feminine, handcrafted jewelry pieces are a unique mix of Chickasaw visual traditions infused with inspiration drawn from the beauty of the California Coast. Dorsey honed her craft at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA while earning a degree in American studies with a concentration in Native American studies from Tufts University. Dorsey's academic and artistic interests converge in her jewelry. The materials and techniques she uses reflects Dorsey's research and passion for the history of Native American southeastern adornment.
Born in Jay, Oklahoma, Mel Cornshucker comes from an artistic family. He grew up in Missouri. He took a course in ceramics at Southwest Baptist University and that sparked his interest. He became an apprentice pottery at Silver Dollar City and quickly became quite accomplished. He struck out on his own in 1977 and has been an artist ever since. Cornshucker is a diversified pottery, with his works in wheel thrown, hand-built stoneware, porcelain, sandblasted porcelain, roku and wood fired pieces. His art is functional, aesthetic or both, and has been exhibited in many museums and galleries, including The Heard Museum in Phoenix, and the Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History in Tulsa. He is an award winning artist and is widely sought in international collections. He creates mostly High Fire Stoneware - fired at 2400 degrees and it is Oven, Microwave and Dishwasher Safe, and he uses only lead free materials.
Jimmy Calabaza of Santo Domingo Pueblo is known for his big and bold designs. As he says, "They aren't for the faint of heart." All his jewelry is totally handmade, including the cutting and shaping of his raw stones-a step many other jewelers forgo. He first began jewelry work in 1974, making traditional nugget necklaces that he would trade for blankets and other goods on the Navajo reservation. "It was like a hobby at first," he explains. Several years later he decided to focus on it as a career and has since then he has not looked back, mastering lapidary work, bead and heishi production, and silver- and goldsmithing along the way. His work can be found in the gift shops of the National Museum of the American Indian (as well as its permanent collection) in New York, the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, among other venues, yet he is, as he notes, "still a well-kept secret."
Todd Westika started learning the art of fetish carving mostly on his own in 1990. A relative made a small bear for him to use as a "guide", and then he "took it from there". His knowledge of rocks came from some Geology classes he took as a geological engineering student. Todd is an accomplished artist having won many awards. His dolomite buffalo was selected to grace the cover of the book: A Guide To Zuni Fetishes and Carvings. Vol.2 by Kent McManis. Todd says "Since a fetish is believed to have a spirit, as though it were alive, I want people to get a sense of security and happiness from my carvings. Whenever I'm about to work, I put any worries aside and try to have only good thoughts so that those would be passed on to anyone who comes in contact with the fetishes. I've always enjoyed collecting unusual rocks. Now in addition to collecting them, I give them new life. Earlier influences, and an imagination play a big role in transforming ordinary rocks in to the different fetishes.
With a Laguna grandmother and mother, and an Italian-American father, this gifted jeweler is almost as unusual as his work. Mark Stevens finds ancient pottery shards on his Pueblo's land and transforms the designs into intriguing silver jewelry. With their irregular shapes and fragmented designs, the silver versions of the shards result in strikingly modern-looking pieces. With only basic instruction in metalsmithing, Mark refined his techniques with the help of mentors on the reservation, and his own experimentation. His work has won awards, and occupies a unique niche. Owners of his jewelry receive photos of the original shards that inspired the design, but the pottery pieces themselves are returned to the reservation land and never used again. Therefore, every piece is one-of-a kind.
Charlene Reano was born Charlene Sanchez in 1960 in San Felipe Pueblo. She married Frank Reano of the Santo Domingo Pueblo. She first started making jewelry while working for a jewelry company doing inlay, stone cutting and setting. Her own work was influenced by her mother-in-law Clara Reano. She first started making jewelry with her husband in the 1980's. Since then they consistently win major awards for their beautiful jewelry.
George "Shukata" Willis is a talented and innovative metalsmith/jeweler. He creates all his own designs and jewelry, that reflect his Choctaw heritage, by hand in his studio in Carlsbad, California.
His grandfather gave him his indian name "Shukata" when he was a little boy. It means "opossum" in Choctaw. You can find the opossum symbol on most of his unique work.
Peter Ray James, Navajo artist, is a creator of Spiritual Fabric Art. He is a 1984 honors graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts of Santa Fe, New Mexico. He also attended Parsons School of Design in New York City. James introduced his art to the competitive Indian Art world in the spring of 1988. His art has been on album covers, prominent art show posters, and numerous newspaper and magazine covers. "I am known among my Navajo people as Nahat'a Yilth Yil Wood - one who delivers the message". It is my Navajo name that braids many generations of prayers, symbolism, tradition, honor, knowledge, and love. I truly believe my destiny is to be a storyteller through my artist endeavors. I am always honored and respectful to represent my family name in my homeland and abroad".