A Posting by Heather Williams, Emerging Artisan
In addition to exploring my family traditions, my NCAP peers and I have the privilege to learn from well-known artisans, explore museums, attend events to network with other creative individuals, and acquire a great wealth of knowledge about our specific emphasis area (weaving, moccasin making, and silversmith).
One event that was particularly enlightening was the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market in Phoenix, AZ, which included the Best of Show Reception. This was a new experience for all of us, especially for me. I would never have thought that I would be an artisan, let alone one who would be attending art receptions and markets to find inspiration. But there I was, in the midst of talents whose careers would be changed with the earning of ribbons at this event.
The Best of Show Reception was swanky, complete with a lighted plaza, catered buffet, “Follow the Threads” Fashion Show, silent auction and of course the juried competition results. Dressed to the nines, the attendees sported heels, button up shirts, ties, and even some traditional Native dresses. All focus was on the dinner when we first arrived. After we ate, we began to make our way through the many beautiful and creative art pieces that won ribbons in various categories. A few of my favorites pieces included the Blue Bird Flour basket, a quilt that was dedicated to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, the Mica Spirit Bowl that had spirals leading up to the opening, and a four-in-one brightly colored rug. Finally, we perused through the silent auction, which consisted of jewelry, pottery, and paintings. These silent auction pieces were going for hundreds and even thousands of dollars. I didn’t make any bids this time – maybe next time ;)
The following day was the commencement of the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market. This event was jam-packed with performances, demonstrations, book signings, and the arts market. I spent most of my day looking through all the booths that featured Native artists and their artwork. With over 600 artists, it took all day to walk through each one of their displays. I saw countless pieces of innovatively designed jewelry, baskets, beadwork, carvings, paintings, personal attire, pottery, sculptures, and textiles. While the majority of the artists were silversmiths, I thought it was neat to see that each of them had their own style and designs. Along the way I made sure to check out the Navajo rugs. There was a variety of pictorial, twill, and traditional weavings. I was mostly fascinated with the pictorial ones. I was intrigued by their techniques and spent my time trying to figure out their processes.
When you’re at a well-populated event like this, with many Navajos in attendance, it was only a matter of time before I ran into a familiar face. Not only did I visit with a couple of relatives, some from Tohatchi and others from Tsaile, but I also found a friend who was selling her jewelry alongside her father.
Overall, this trip was fun, eye opening, and inspiring. It was fun walking from booth to booth, hearing artists talk about their work, and making a name for themselves. This was eye opening in the sense that there are so many talented Native artists and they are really good at their crafts. I left the event inspired, in hopes that one day I too will be selling my weavings at events like this.