Katsina Carvers

IARC Seminar

November 1–5, 1999

The sixth Native American Artist Convocation convened at the IARC on November 1 through 5, 1999. “You can never use anyone else’s tools, it doesn't come out the same.”—Silas Roy, Katsina CarverFacilitated by Research Associate Barton Wright, the convocation focused on traditional Hopi kachina carving. The nine participants were all accomplished contemporary carvers, representing a broad range of age and experience. Although all the artists were male and from the Hopi tribe, this convocation marked the first time they had met specifically for the purpose of discussing their work. For some, it was the first time they had ever talked with another carver about their art.

The group quickly established a rapport for the five days of intense conversation designed to create a snapshot and cross-section of kachina carving at this historical moment. Shifting easily from English to the Hopi Language and back again, the discussion revolved around an extensive list of questions and topics:

  • Technique: How do you carve? With what tools? What kind of paint? Do you make flat, cylindrical, carved face, or cradle dolls?
  • Intention and philosophy: What is the relationship between sacred and secular carvings? What cannot be carved and sold as art? What constitutes a tihu, a doll, or a carving?
  • The business of art: what are the effects of marketing, judging, dealers, and collectors? How is self-promotion, signing, competition or cooperation viewed?

Perhaps most importantly, the convocation participants discussed how traditional values and skills are to be passed to the next generation. Several of the participants first learned their art from their fathers, who were also carvers, while others came to their creative work later in life.

Barton Wright, Facilitator Research Associate, Indian Arts Research Center
Daniel Dewakuku Hano Village, First Mesa
Armand Fritz Walpi Village, First Mesa
Joseph Gash Hotevilla Village, Third Mesa
Philbert Honanie Hotevilla Village, Third Mesa
Marlon Huma Hano Village, First Mesa
Alfred “Bo” Lomahquahu Bacavi, Third Mesa
Lester Quanimptewa Mishongnovi Village, Second Mesa
Silas Roy Moenkopi Village, Third Mesa
Bertram Tsavadawa Old Oraibi, Third Mesa

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