Tony Ortiz

Tony Ortiz
Oaxaca Alebrijes

“I would like to preserve my tradition, and have my daughters be the fourth generation of this work.”

Cultural Community: Oaxaca, Mexico
Location: Tucson AZ

Tony Ortiz

Tony Ortiz was born in the beautiful state of Oaxaca Mexico, a very cultural state. The art form alebrijes is widely known in Oaxaca and is the art form that Tony has been creating. Since his childhood, Tony has been connected with the practice of wood carving, which he first learned from his grandmother. This led him to learn and pick up craving alebrijes. Since then, with his mother and uncles, his family has been making alebrijes as a way of working for more than three generations.

Tony has worked at Disney World demonstrating how alebrijes are made. Alebrijes are typically made from copal wood and are painted with amazing detail, making each one unique. Tony says that to make a small one, it typically takes him about 3-5 hours, and a larger one usually takes about 12 hours, a very laborious art form! Today, he continues to create alebrijes during his spare time, with hopes of becoming a full-time artist one day.

Tony would like for this unique and beautiful tradition to be passed on to his daughters. Since his grandmother taught him, he is now teaching and involving his children in how to create alebrijes because it helps them preserve their cultural identity. And have them continue to be the fourth generation!

Quinton Antone

Quinton Antone

“It’s about creating something that is both wearable and a reflection of this land, where we come from. I think that it’s
my spiritual duty to be able to represent my people from
generations before me and to generations ahead of me.”

Cultural Community: Tohono O’odham
Location: Tucson

Quinton Antone

My mentors encouraged me to use the cactus because it’s a symbol of being O’otham, and of being here as stewards of the Southwest. The saguaro is now an element in my work. I also incorporate different techniques and have created my own style. 

The cactus motif, the desert landscape, the desert animals are all a representation of this region. We’ve been residents for a long time, one of the first residents of the Sonoran Desert. I grew up living on the reservation with my family and was taught about how we relate and connect to the land. 

For me (creating jewelry), it’s not necessarily for financial gain, it’s more of a statement. It’s about creating something that is both wearable and a reflection of this land, where we come from.
I think that it’s my spiritual duty to be able to represent my people from generations before me and to generations ahead of me. 

This silverwork is going to last for a long time, if people take care of it can last forever. People can use it as an heirloom to pass it on, each piece has a story to it, and it represents our people, the Tohono O’odham people here in Southern Arizona. 

Check out more of Quinton and his amazing artwork on his Instagram!

Mark Talayumptewa

Mark Talayumptewa
Hopi Overlay Silverwork

“I strive to keep the generations
of teachings that have been instilled in
me alive and strong. ”

Cultural Community: Hopi
Location: Second Mesa, AZ

Hello, my name is Mark Talayumptewa. I learned silver work through the mentorship of Gerald Lomaventema and Jerolyn Honwytewa. They both have shared their knowledge and experience, and I am grateful for the time they took to teach me the step-by-step processes of the art. They encouraged me to try, improve, and continue my efforts.

Silversmithing represents a significant history of a long line of Hopi silver artists. History of individuals who learned an art form through past trading with relations established outside of Hopi. Perfecting the art form and enabling individuals to express themselves spiritually, culturally, and mentally. Also providing the opportunity to make a living to support what is most important to Hopi: my family.

My grandfather is one of the many past Hopi Silver Artists. My family is the sole inspiration for everything I do. I myself have the feeling of accomplishment, self-expression, and cultural expression, and drives my passion. I express myself through my creations.

Clinessia Lucas

Clinessia Lucas

“Everything in the pieces, the design, the images, even the stones all represent healing. These are blessings for our people and everyone on this earth. ”

Cultural Community: Hopi
Location: Village of mushongovi, Arizona
Clinessia Lucas

I learned my art form as a little girl growing up watching my parents. My dad is a wood carver, he makes kachinas and my mom is a painter.

My dad told me that in creating art I would have to speak to people and tell them what my pieces are about. Each piece I create has its own story. As I create my art the story comes from within my heart, my mind, and what I see. As the stories play in my head, the designs, colors, and images emerge, insects, animals, the sky, the stars, the water, the rocks, anything in mother earth and out of mother earth. 

The story that I create is not for me, it’s for that person I’m supposed to meet. 

As I grew up all of my family members were artists. My family gave me knowledge and ideas about my stories and these are part of the stories I create in my jewelry. I put my heart and whom I meet into the piece. 

My aunt’s husband, Gerald Lomaventema, knows my work and liked the details, descriptions, and stories behind it. He asked me if I would be willing to be part of his class. He wanted me to put my paintings and images in silver. He shared his knowledge and the history of how he learned from the Hopi Guild. This is part of our history and our culture and who we are to this day.

Everything in the pieces, the design, the images, and even the stones all represent healing. These are blessings for our people and everyone on this earth. We all plant and we all create something new, by doing this we’re giving back to mother earth. We’re giving her our blessings, our prayers, and our songs. 

Learn more about the unique Qwa-Holo Hopi Silvercraft here.

Adriana Felix

Adriana Felix
Clay Dolls

“Every person that has one of my dolls receives a piece of the culture. It can remind them who they are, and the
people that have shaped their life.”

Cultural Community: Yaqui
Location: Tucson, AZ

Adriana Felix

Adriana Felix is a Yaqui artist, raised in Tucson, Arizona who creates detailed clay dolls. Since a child, Adriana was always drawn to art and the details in creating it. Adriana’s parents were raised in the community of Old Pascua. Here she learned to cherish and be inspired by her Yaqui culture. Growing up in Tucson she attended the Easter ceremonies in Old Pascua and was surrounded by the colors, music, Pascolas, Matachin, and the Deer Dancers. These experiences help her create her artistic expression.

She continued to create her art form, specifically clay dolls because she always enjoyed creating 3- dimensional artwork. Adriana had an accident that involved her fingers while attending the University of New Mexico. She did physical therapy to heal her injuries and used clay to exercise her fingers. Adriana was working at the National Hispanic Cultural Center while also working on creating clay dolls. This led to her selling her dolls at the center’s gift shop. 

To share her culture, she began creating Pascolas and Deer Dancers and sold these at the Old Pascua Museum in Tucson. Adriana enjoys sharing her art with her community, it promotes cultural pride and gives them something special that they can also share with others. She also creates Legacy Dolls, detailed figures of loved ones who have passed away.

Adriana is motivated in her work, everything she creates she views as a gift to help her community.

Yvette Talaswaima & Gerald Lomaventema

Yvette Talaswaima & Gerald Lomaventema
Silversmith Jewelers

“We base our artwork upon Hopi geometric designs and traditions. The designs we use come from rain, water, clouds, prayer feathers, animals, clan symbols and nature.”
-Yvette Talaswaima

“You have to make jewelry that makes sense; you have to make jewelry that has meaning.”
-Gerald Lomaventema

Cultural Community: Hopi/Qäö- Wungwa (corn clan)
Location: second Mesa, Arizona
Yvette Talaswaima

Gerald Lomaventema

Yvette Talaswaima
Hello, my name is Yvette Talaswaima. I am Qäö- Wungwa (corn clan) from the village of Musungnovi on Second Mesa. I have 3 daughters and 3 grandsons. 
I learned my art form from my husband  Gerald Lomaventema in 2003. Gerald use to work at the Hopi Co-Op Guild and when it closed he started working out of our home. He built a studio next to our home. At this time I helped him finish the jewelry. Doing what I called “the dirty work”, because I was always black from polishing the jewelry.
Over the years I picked up little things and our studio was always open. I could go in there and teach myself how to do different techniques. It was up to me if I really wanted to learn.
I started by making Hopi chains.
My husband , Gerald was getting a lot of orders for chain and he asked me if I wanted to try. At that time I was scared of the torch and didn’t want to ruin anything so I started by flattening some wire and started with big links to solder. 
Now, I specialize in making handmade chains. In addition to chain, I also learned how to cut with a jewelers saw. Using different flower designs and I love to design different flowers.
My hallmark is the lightning bolt, it was used by Uncle, Dawson Numkena.
We base our artwork upon Hopi geometric designs and traditions. The designs we use come from rain, water, clouds, prayer feathers, animals, clan symbols and nature.

Learn more about the unique Qwa-Holo Hopi Silvercraft here.

Gerald Lomaventema
I learned traditional Hopi overlay and other techniques from other fellow Hopi artists in the 80’s and 90’s. I had to find something to take care of my wife and my kids. When I was learning at the Hopi Silvercraft Cooperative Guild there used to be like 30 men working in a big room in rows. It used to be a fun place, you know, because people would be joking or we’d be listening to some traditional music.
My great uncle Fred Kabotie–I didn’t know he was a famous artist until I got older–he and another elder, Paul Saufkie, were mentors. They taught the GIs after they came home. They didn’t want the men to leave the Hopi reservation. 
When we were first learning, the elders used to tell us that everything about the pottery—even the ancient pottery that was laying on the ground—means something, those geometric designs and figures they all have a meaning to us. So, in our jewelry, we’re doing the same thing. We’re expressing a little bit about ourselves and our culture in these pieces. You have to make jewelry that makes sense; you have to make jewelry that has meaning.   
I tell my students, you have to find yourself, your identity. People will know who you are through your jewelry. It takes a while, a lot of sacrifices and a lot of disappointment at the same time, but I think it’s worth it.

Gerald Lomaventema is a Hopi jeweler and recipient of a 2016 SFA Master-Apprentice Artist Award. Lomaventema teaches students the Hopi overlay technique, which was first developed by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie and his brother-in-law, Paul Saufkie, in the 1940s. 

Charlotte Ham holding Toni's custom designed hat

Toni Ham

Toni Ham
Toni’s Designs

“Her unique hats were a staple for the African American Community and the Black Church.”

Cultural Community: African AmericaN
Location: Tucson, AZ

Toni Ham

Toni Ham was the sole creator of Toni’s Designs and was the drive behind this unique millinery art. Her character comes through these hat designs, showing every bit of sophistication, fierceness, and beauty. When it came to fashion, for as long as I can remember, Toni always dressed to perfection and with grace. Most of Toni’s  style of hats are traditionally worn by African American women, to be used in times of Celebration and Mourning. For over a decade, her unique hats were a staple for the African American Community and the Black Church. Though never limiting her style to just culture, Toni took from other eras and times and made it her own — she never disappointed. 

As the daughter of Toni, I had the pleasure of seeing her in action, and the pleasure now to continue what she started. Since losing  my mother to Dementia, I remain hopeful I can continue her legacy by making her hats accessible to the community and those that appreciate this art.  She would be proud. 

Make a statement and wear it well.

– Charlotte Ham

Watch this amazing documentary about Tonis work: Memory & Millinery: The Legacy of Toni Ham

Check out Charlottes instagram, dedicated to her mothers work:

Jerolyn Honwytewa

Jerolyn Honwytewa
Hopi Overlay Silver work/Hopi Sifter Basket

“I love making jewelry and weaving
baskets because creating things
by hand brings happiness to me.”

Cultural Community: Hopi
Location: Second Mesa, AZ

Jerolyn Honwytewa

Hello, my name is Jerolyn Honwytewa. I am Corn clan (Qáö’wungwa) from the village of Mishungnovi. I am a Hopi Silversmith, as well as a traditional Hopi sifter basket weaver.

Growing up I had watched my mother and father make Hopi overlay-style silver work. We would travel to various art shows around the Southwest. Seeing the art world and the people a part of it encouraged me to learn, so I started creating in 2015.

Now, years later I am still creating and learning the Hopi overlay style silverwork. I first learned how to make Hopi baskets from my grandmother. The young girls and women of my family would all go out to the desert and we would help gather yucca plants. Then we would sit outside our grandmother’s house to help clean and split the yucca. Those were always the best times I had during my childhood.
Asquali! (Thank you)

Learn more about the unique Qwa-Holo Hopi Silvercraft here.

Delwyn Tawvaya

Delwyn “Spyder” Tawvaya
Traditional Hopi Overlay Silver

“Learning silver reflects who I am within my community.”

Cultural Community: Hopi
Location: Second Mesa, AZ

Delwyn Tawvaya

Hi, my name is Delwyn Spyder Tawvaya. I am affiliated with the Snow Clan from the Village of Soongöpavi, Second Mesa within the Hopi tribe. I am a Hopi farmer, and a member of the Flute, Katsina & Snake Societies. I am very active in the Hopi calendar life cycle and learning & preserving our way of life. I’m a father of two boys, so I do have eyes watching me as I take on this journey as a silversmith.

I come from a great lineage of silversmiths within my clan, family members, relatives, and uncles, and they learned the technique. I’ve been doing silversmithing silver works since 2016 when I took an apprenticeship program with Gerald Lomeventema, my mentor.

From then I continuously worked with silver using various techniques; it has been seven years now since I have learned the technique of Traditional Hopi Overlay. I have learned other techniques and worked in various museum formats that hold the History of Hopi Overlay Silver. I’m looking forward to more of what, and where, my silver works will lead me in the future. 

Thanks so very much.

Learn more about the unique Qwa-Holo Hopi Silvercraft here.

Alex & Shane Beeshligaii

Alex & Shane Beeshligaii
Silver Jewelry

“I want people to be able to express themselves through my work. As long as it makes that individual happy or feel
inspired, that’s what I try to do with all my pieces.”

Cultural Community: Honaghaani Nahobani or Dine/Navajo
Location: Tucson

Alex(left) & Shane(right) Beeshligaii

Shane Beeshligaii
I’m a silversmith. I learned my artform from my dad over the course of my life. I started when I was around seven years old. I design anything from traditional Navajo jewelry to more of a modernized style of micro-inlay that my dad taught me. 

My family have been silversmiths since the Spanish first arrived in the Southwest. I have a great- great-grandfather named Atsidi iilneeh Beeshligaii, which means the maker of silver. My family passed the artform down for generations up until the early 1900’s when my family was more inclined to do railroad work or whatever means to get by. My father started silversmithing when he was in his mid-thirties and I always would loiter around as a kid and watch while he worked on his jewelry.

It was difficult growing up because I was a city Indian, I didn’t grow up on the reservation. 

Most interactions with people from my own tribe were on Sherman Indian High School grounds in Riverside CA, where my mother still teaches pottery and traditional beadwork. It was one of the last boarding schools in the United States. Growing up my mother would teach at the high school and she would always bring me and my brother around because this was one way for us to interact with our own native community. 

I would visit our father during our summer break or whenever we had vacation as a kid. Our parents were divorced and that was one way for me to become more immersed in my culture, and to learn about the culture and our history of our people. 

When I was seventeen, I moved to Tucson and stayed with my father.  As a teenager I’d make jewelry on the side to buy things like video games or clothes, even a laptop.

I constantly hear my father’s voice in my mind, critiquing my work regarding whether or not it’s polished enough, all the scratches are out, if everything looks nice, if all the stones are set correctly, or if I have to rework something. I always have him as a voice in my head, checking over me. At the same time, it’s me, holding my work to the standards that I’ve learned. 

I make jewelry because it’s the main way for me to keep in contact with my cultural heritage. To understand and embrace my culture and make a meaningful life in modern day society. I think there’s still room for advancement within jewelry. The one main focus of the work I’ve been learning over the last 30 years is micro-inlay which is my dad’s checkerboard pattern of overlay work.

I make whatever I’m inspired by. I want people to be able to express themselves through my work. As long as it makes that individual happy or feel inspired, that’s what I try to do with all my pieces. 

Check out this video by AZPM of Alex and Shane Beeshligaiis culture and their amazing silversmithing story!