In designing the focal pieces for this show I was inspired by a cold and windy trip to the Acoma Pueblo, which lies on top of a 365 foot mesa in New Mexico. The harshness of the land, the history of the native peoples and the stories of their indomitable spirits and resilience made a deep impression.
The site is the oldest continually inhabited settlement in North America at about 1000 years old. On top of the mesa, two and three level homes are still made of adobe, with outside ladders leading to the upper stories where people live. There is no running water, no electricity and no sewage disposal. For centuries the only access was an almost vertical set of stairs cut into the rock face.
The day I was there was the second of a two-day festival of dancing and ceremony honoring the dedication of the newly-elected leaders. Native people returned in large number to their ancestral homes on the mesa to participate and there were only a handful of non-native visitors there. I felt completely immersed within a culture that was foreign to me and honored to be able to observe these dances and ceremonies performed for the Zuni people, not tourists.
The sounds of drums, rattles, chanting, the colors and patterns of traditional clothing and pottery, all stood out brightly against the surrounding brown of the desert and unceasing wind and sand. There was a palpable sense of a living, breathing ancient culture that uplifted me and inspired my work.
My major pieces for “Luminous” are female figures crafted of sterling silver and semi-precious stones like turquoise, carnelian, chrysoprase and lapis lazuli. The silver is heavily textured and darkened with a liver of sulfur patina making them appear ancient. They are being buffeted by the wind, perhaps a storm is raging around them, but they are not only still standing, they are strongly rooted.