Posting by Christine M. Ami, NCAP Grant Manager
The 1st Navajo Cultural Arts Week was a tremendous success! I would like to thank the 100+ community members from various chapters across the Navajo Nation as well as those visitors to our unique college campus who attended the exhibit, workshops, and lecture throughout this past week.
For our inaugural year, the NCAP transformed the northwest corner of the Ned Hatalthi Center Museum into a colorful exhibit of Emerging Artisan creations. Exhibit attendees were greeted with 3 large cases of NCAC silverwork, beading, and weavings. In addition to gathering various demographic data, we asked attendees to vote on your favorite piece. Of the 89 votes casted, Delia Wauneka's "Skittles" took home the Diné College Community Choice Award!
In addition to Delia's award, Carlon P. Ami's "Clouds From All Directions" received the 2016 Best of Show as well as Diné College President's Choice Award. His work was selected for his level of design, execution, and presentation for the medium of his selection.
Ilene Naegle's natural churro wool purse captured the eye of Greg Bigman for the Board of Regents President Choice Award and also contributed to her earning of the Preserving the Legacy of a Master Weaver, an award sponsored by Regent Theresa Hatalthie in honor of Bessie Zahne Hatathlie of Coalmine Mesa Arizona.
While exhibit attendees marveled at this student work during the day, 19 community members attended a variety of workshops led by our Emerging Artisans during the evening. Delia led a stamping workshop, Dawayne Bahe guided participants through an extremely popular beading workshop, and Carlon finished the week with an overlay workshop. All students left with some more knowledge, more friends, and, of course, more bling! Workshops were filled a week prior to the event, so we will be hosting more in the very near future.
Students in the workshop were also able to view the newly framed archived photos gathered from the Ruth and Bob Roessel Archive Center. NCAP's next project is identifying those individuals in the photos - so stop on by if you know someone who took Navajo cultural arts classes during the 1970's.
The week's events culminated with a Lecture and Museum Exhibit Reception. The inspiring Invocation from Dr. Henry Fowler, words of encouragement from Board of Regents President, Greg Bigman, heartfelt explanations of NCAP logo by Corey Begay and beautiful benediction offered by Marie Etsitty-Nez contributed to the positive atmosphere of not only the evening but the journey ahead of the NCAP. All of these happening surrounded our keynote speaker, Dr. Wilson Aronilth, Jr., who took the evening to introduce Navajo Cultural Arts Philosophy. Introduced by our gracious Mistress of Ceremonies, Miss Navajo Nation 2014, McKeon Dempsey, Wilson spoke for an hour on significance of silverwork and weaving to the Navajo people. His shared stories, songs, and prayers that helped to provide a frame for what the Navajo Cultural Arts Program stands for: Intergenerational teachings of skills, philosophies, and ways of life that are promoted through and by Navajo cultural arts.
Everyone on the Diné College campus pulled together to make this event a success. I would especially like to thank various departments and divisions such as Ned Hatalthi Center Museum, Ruth and Bob Roessel Archive, Maintenance, Business Office, Custodians, Aramark, BASET, Center for Diné Studies, Social and Behavioral Sciences and Diné Policy Institute. Without all of your support and assistance, none of this would have been possible. To the Spring 2016 Business Interns (BUSI), Sharon Begay, Malcolm Bob, and Falencia Brown, thank you for your dedication to the program and preparation for this week's event. And of course there are the ever so delightful Emerging Artisans to thank. Carlon, Delia, Dawayne, and Ilene, thank you for pushing our program to be the best it can be.
A huge thank you also goes to Indian Jeweler Supply, Inc, Silver Dust, and Butler's Office Supply of Gallup and Griswold's Trading Post of Tse Bonito whose constant attention to detail have helped to make sure our Emerging Artisans and workshop participants have a safe work environment and supplies to produced their amazing pieces.
A posting by Sharon Begay, BUSI Intern
Perhaps the word “work” is not necessarily the correct word to use here. According to Delia, it is more like “family time”. Similar to family dinners, the family gathers and talks to each other about their day happenings while they “work”. I have to say, I give the Wauneka family kudos and respect for turning business into priceless family time. Today it is a challenge to get kids to sit down and talk to you without a phone or other electronic equipment in their hands. Apparently, when you replace smart phones with gauged silver – talking to mom and dad is no longer “work” either.
Delia began learning how to solder from her parents at the young age of 8 years old. From that point on, she learned each step towards becoming the artist she is today. When I spoke with Delia, she shared one key piece of advice told to her by her parents: “It has to have a purpose or a meaning. Money comes and goes, but this … the jewelry … you are making a piece of metal into art, into life.” Once again – Kudos to the Waneuka parental unit! Those words of wisdom has inspired Delia to follow in her family’s traditional style of cluster work but in her own way. She loves to branch out and create her own designs, use distinct metals, and unique stones.
As with all family affairs, she still seeks out her parents’ input and they are more than happy to provide it. Did I mention, that Delia’s 7 year old son, is now learning how to shape the stones? What a great way to instill work ethics into the youth and keeping the family business going into the next generation.
On a creative side, I asked Delia, “How do you decide what you want to make?” She sat back and replied, “It depends on the supplies on hand”. Delia looks at her supplies to see what she can make out of it. The design and shape of the stone, the type of metal it will look great against - copper, red brass or silver. In addition to the materials talking to her, she has to consider, what the customer wants – how will this piece suit the person? Her goal is to make a set of jewelry for her customers that can be treasured and become an heirloom. That I can understand. Sentimental value is priceless.
There are times she works on her own pieces, but when an order comes in, the family is needed to meet the deadline. Delia explained the nuts and bolts of a family jewelry making business - the technical side. First you have to have the raw materials, which includes the metal and stones and combining both. Then you cut, shape, set and solder the silver together, sawing off the unused pieces and filing the rough edges. Next, you cut the stones, mount them, followed by grinding/filing to smooth out the roughness of the stone. This brings you to the final steps, which is setting the stone in the jewelry, buffing and polishing the final product. But her family has a process and she said it takes about 1 ½ to 2 days to finish a piece.
Last but, not least, I wanted to know what Delia’s favorite materials were. Now when I think of traditional Navajo jewelry, my first guess would not be red brass. But for Delia – she loves this metal. Yes, red brass. I wouldn’t have guessed that either. She said it may not be gold or silver, but it still has a great shine when finished. I’m not going to lie – it is beautiful! This picture is an example of her work and use of red brass, Kingman turquoise with a gold metric inlay. This is even more special, as it is the first complete set she made on her own.
A posting by Malcolm Bob, BUSI Intern
While he is able to guarantee his sash belts a home, this practice of selling his work early has an effect on Dawayne. He stated that he sometimes doesn’t get to fully appreciate his piece of work because it already belongs to the buyer. He also said that he wish he could have more time with the sash belts to reflect on it and document it. Documenting has become a key project as part of his Navajo Cultural Arts Certificate program. In many of the classes, instructors constantly remind students to take pictures and build their artisan work portfolios. In efforts to build his portfolio he stated that he stated he has tried to track down his work (which our fancy new NCAP tags will help with in the future) to document it.
Dawayne has also spent some time in the program analyzing his supply and demand selling patterns. I was fortunate to work with him on his business plan. As we worked on the marketing section of his business plan, he told me he hopes to have an international client base. He wants to reach to people who want to learn about or collect Navajo and Native American arts. NCAP is just another tool for him to utilize to get him there.
Dawayne is conducting a Beading Workshop during the NCAP Navajo Cultural Arts Week. His workshop will be on Tuesday April 19, 2016, from 5 - 8:40pm in the NHC Building at Dine College.