A Posting by Sheryl Benally, NCAP Work-Study Intern
Working with NCAP isn’t my first experience with the cultural arts. I come from a family of silversmiths, bead workers and quilters. Sadly, I never learned to silversmith but I learned how to bead earring and bracelets from my mother. I also quilt blankets, a trade I learned from my grandmothers who are all professional quilters. With my previous job at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, we held family cultural nights and I learned how to mirror sketch, beadwork and make moccasins.
My first day of work is one that I will never forget! Not only did I setup for the Roy Kady's Felted Saddle Pad Workshop, I was able to participate in it. IT WAS A WORKOUT! When I started the workshop I was thinking that we were making mini saddle pads but boy was I wrong. When the time came to make our saddle pads, we were going for the full size. We used 2 pounds of hand carded and naturally dyed wool. It was a along process but I was determine to finish my saddle pad. I didn’t have any knowledge on what materials were needed and how much work it takes to make one but now I do. I have always been interested in art and making it and now that I’m apart of the NCAP team I feel that I can express myself through it.
I ended my first week interning with NCAP by attending Thomas Yellowhair’s NIS134: Navajo Cultural Arts Philosophy class. His goal is to teach cultural arts philosophy by way of making artifacts and not just talking about them. So here I am – on to week two and on to my next project – Water Jug Making! I still have a way to go but I already feel the philosophy and objectives behind NCAP becoming part of me.
These NCAP objectives include providing “NCAP participants with the opportunity to acquire and engage traditional understandings of Navajo cultural arts, demonstrate their techniques to local and regional community members, explore a variety of Native American artisan marketing opportunities, and create multigenerational Navajo artisan community bonds.” I really feel that the objective statement it on point. I am very honored to be about of the Navajo Cultural Arts Program and look forward to our upcoming events. The workshops and classes thus far have introduced me to so many talented people. Being a part of NCAP and being around the Navajo Cultural Arts students has already made me want to relearn my cultural, language and the unique arts that we as Diné People were given. I will be able to not only learn how to do them but to also teach my family and son of what we are capable of philosophically and psychologically as Diné People. I'm ready for a NCAP workout....are you?