Native American Craft: The Southwest
In our first issue on Native American craft, which we hope will be joined by others in the coming years, we look at the unusually rich and varied craft traditions of some of the Southwest’s Indian tribes. These communities rarely let outsiders see much of their cultural practices, but thanks to the tireless work of a few New Mexico writers and others who have spent years developing relationships with the region’s tribes, we can offer you this glimpse into the work of some remarkable Indigenous artists and artisans.
Unlike most Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, many Native American tribes located in the Southwest have retained their ancestral homelands and their sovereign governance through the ages. This has enabled their traditional ways and art forms not only to survive, but also to continue evolving. To understand how this came to pass, our writers peek into the region’s long and colorful history.
BY ROSEMARY DIAZ and DANIEL GIBSON
Among the different Indigenous cultures represented by the Southwest’s Native American tribes, some of the richest history of craftsmanship has been, and still is, practiced by the Pueblo Indians. For some of these artisans, the inspiration for carrying on came from an early artistic pioneer: a rebel painter named Pablita Velarde.
Written by DANIEL GIBSON
Photography by KITTY LEAKEN
Felipe Ortega devoted his life to creating the perfect pot of beans—and to teaching people from around the world, regardless of ethnicity, to make micaceous clay pots in the same style he learned from a local tribal Elder. Over the years, Ortega’s journey involved such an unusual combination of the traditional and the nontraditional that it brought some old questions into a new light: Who owns a tradition? Who is allowed to learn and practice it, and for what purpose?
Written by DEBORAH BUSEMEYER
Photography by KITTY LEAKEN
Other Topics In This Issue
Brian Boggs is a fine furniture maker in Asheville, N.C., and he just can’t seem to leave a good idea alone. The result has been a lifetime of tinkering and experimentation, leading to a line of innovative woodworking tools, and some of the world’s finest, and most comfortable, hardwood chairs.
By JANINE LATUS
Photography by MICHAEL OPPENHEIM
For anyone who appreciates the intricately decorated walls and ceilings found in many Old World houses of worship, some of the finest examples of the form can be found in the mosaics of Ravenna, Italy. This tradition is so central to Ravenna’s culture that the city continues to produce world-renowned mosaic artisans. One, who you will meet in this film, is an innovative artist named Francesca Fabbri.
A Film by LUISA GROSSO
More from this Issue
Written by CRAFTSMANSHIP EDITORS Narrated by LAURIE WEED & ROSEMARY DIAZ
Written by CARRIE A. BACK & THE EDITORS OF CRAFTSMANSHIP MAGAZINE