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NMSU to host 2019 Hopi Artist Workshop ‘Living in Sacred Continuum’

Three Hopi artists will return to New Mexico State University to engage with students and members of the public for the first time since they presented a panel discussion at NMSU’s American Indian Student Center in April this year. The group will provide hands-on experiences, demonstrations and lectures as the “Living in Sacred Continuum” event continues Oct. 24-28 at the University Museum at Kent Hall on the corner of University and Solano and the University Art Museum at Devasthali Hall.


Woman being videotaped holding a large piece of pottery
Hopi artist Gwen Setalla gently examines a piece of prehistoric Mimbres pottery in a session where five Native American artists were recorded on video giving their interpretations of the designs and meanings of the pottery. (Courtesy photo: Atsunori Ito)

Gwen Setalla, Gerald Lomaventema and Ramson Lomatewama will present their work, which includes not only pottery making but also glass blowing and silversmithing. All the presentations are free and open to the public.

The visiting Hopi artists are among the five who played a key role in research conducted by Fumi Arakawa, NMSU anthropology professor and director of the University Museum. Arakawa collaborated with professor Atsunori Ito at the National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) in Japan. By working with Native American artists, Arakawa and Ito hope to better understand the meanings behind the designs on the ancient Mimbres pottery found in southern New Mexico. Mimbres is considered among the finest examples of prehistoric pottery ever made. Working with the Hopi is the first step in their research.

“The five Hopi artists had requested to get to know more about NMSU students and the Las Cruces community,” said Arakawa. “This last workshop we are planning is open to anyone who would want to learn more about what the Hopi artists do. Some people will get the chance to make their own pottery working with the artists. You can learn face-to-face with those wonderful Hopi artists, which is a very rare opportunity.”

Examples of Mimbres pottery have been on exhibit at the American Indian Student Center since April and will be on display through December. The exhibit also features the work of Hopi artists that are inspired by their examination, perceptions and experience of the Mimbres pottery.

Setalla will hold a workshop from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Oct. 24 and a pottery making exercise at Devasthali Hall, room 122 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Oct. 25. She practices traditional Hopi pottery using traditional techniques learned from her mother. These techniques include the sourcing of all her materials from the clay to the pigments. Experimentation in different clay sources and paint pigments also inform her work.

Lomaventema, a Hopi silversmith, will conduct a lecture from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. Oct. 24 at the University Museum at Kent Hall. On Oct. 25 he will provide a demonstration at 9 a.m. to 12 p.m at Devasthali Hall, room 130. Lomaventema practices traditional Hopi overlay taught by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie and his brother-in-law, Paul Saufkie, the innovators of the technique. He has won the division and category in the Santa Fe Indian Market in jewelry in 2016 and was the recipient of the SFA Master-Apprentice Artist Award in 2016.

Lomatewama will bring his mobile glass blowing unit to NMSU to provide public hands-on demonstrations in addition to visiting anthropology classes. He is an award-winning glass artist, jeweler, poet, teacher and traditional-style katchina doll carver. He is the first glassblower from the Hopi tribe. His work fuses traditional imagery with new mediums emphasizing their significance to the Hopi people. His art has been shown at the Santa Fe Indian Market, the Museum of Northern Arizona, Fusing Traditions, a traveling exhibition, and the San Diego Museum of Man Show. Lomatewama will have two blow glass demonstrations from 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 26, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 27 at the University Museum at Kent Hall. Lomatewama will give a lecture for the contemporary Native American class from 9 to 10:15 a.m. at the Health and Social Services, room 202 and 12 to 1:15 p.m. Oct. 28 at the University Museum at Kent Hall.

All three Hopi artists will participate in the show-and tell of Hopi Crafts from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Brannigan Culture Center located at the Las Cruces Farmers Market.

A commemorative ceremony at 1 p.m. Oct. 25 will honor the life of Hopi artist Spencer Nutima, who was among the artists who contributed to the research. He died over the summer. Nutima was from the Old Oraibe Village of Third Mesa in northern Arizona. He was a member of the Greaswood Clan and had been a katchina doll carver for more than 30 years.

For more information on the 2019 Hopi Artists Workshop visit, https://univmuseum.nmsu.edu/the-hopi-artist-workshop/.