Connie, David, and Wayne Gaussoin
Rollin and Mary Ella King Fellowship
The Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research announces the Gaussoin family of jewelers—Connie, David, and Wayne—as recipients of the 2006 Rollin and Mary Ella King Native Artist Fellowship. The learning landscape of Native artistry has long been a topic of discussion and a field for probing questions: from whom do artists learn, how do they develop their craft, and how important are kinship relationships in this process? This year’s King Fellows will provide that intimate insight.
Connie Tsosie Gaussoin is the matriarch whose Picuris Pueblo and Navajo ancestors were silversmiths, painters, weavers, and sculptors—all talented artists. Inspired by the values of family but encouraged by artistic initiatives outside kinship and culture, Connie redefined her art to include modernistic ideas in metalsmithing, painting, and sculpture. An inveterate traveler, her interactions with artists from other cultural backgrounds exposed her to the expressive and experimental ways that people fashion their art—and, in so doing, fashion their individual identities. Her jewelry, in particular, is embedded in discourses of sensuous beauty, cultural heritage, and family nostalgia. But while Connie staunchly supports the importance of tradition, she also pushes her work beyond what collectors consider ethno-aesthetic ideals. Her pieces intensely reveal a creative energy that slams head-on into cultural formula art, opening up new landscapes of personal expression. Rings, bracelets, and pendants of unique design and crafting reveal much about this quintessential, modern woman. Her work has global appeal and unique artistic vitality, yet there are liminal renderings of her Navajo and Pueblo heritage subtly incorporated within.
Connie believes it is important to share one’s creative knowledge and artistic technique. A teacher in heart and spirit, students in the Eight Northern Indian Pueblo Council Vocation Program, the Poeh Arts Center, and children’s programs at the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe have benefited from her expertise. Such community-minded endeavors won Connie the 2005 City of Santa Fe Mayor Award for Arts Education and The Santa Fe New Mexican Award recognizing “10 Who Make a Difference.”
The artistic works of David and Wayne Gaussoin are likewise experiential and expressive, honoring the same creative spirit of the mother. David and Wayne similarly sustain the integrity of the past while building a new future in jewelry design. Directed toward a modernist world of linear patterns and concise architectural structure, their jewelry is a vital force in today’s art world. It speaks also to a future of new artists, saying “we respect the past, but we cannot return to it.” Each work is thoughtfully rendered, representing artistic purity while creating a new global arena of Native creativity and expression.
At a young age, both David and Wayne Gaussoin were taught the basics of jewelry-making from their mother. The learning process was at the same time impressionistic and realistic, providing a new momentum in creativity built on solid instruction. Even in the beginning, their early talent was masterful, innovative, and exciting. Today, David and Wayne experiment with unconventional materials such as steel, and their techniques vary from traditional tufa casting and hand-stamping to wax casting. Skilled lapidarists, the brothers also work in precious and semi-precious stones. “I am always interested in finding new ways of creating. I feel artists must push themselves and not be afraid to create new designs or ideas; this is what helps an artist grow,” says David, who also helped guide Wayne’s growth as an artist.
Both sons, like their mother, have never lost sight of their cultural heritage. “I tell people and collectors as a person I am very traditional and as an artist I am contemporary. I believe it is very important to learn our traditional ways in order to carry them forward,” David exclaims. Over the years, he has expanded his artistic knowledge by taking classes at Pueblo V Design Institute and the Institute of American Indian Arts, and he has a Business Degree from the Anderson School of Business at the University of Albuquerque. Brother Wayne graduated from St. Michael’s High School, earned an Associate of Fine Arts from Santa Fe Community College, and attended classes at the Institute of American Indian Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago. His artistic interests lie not only in creating jewelry, but also in photography, music, and fashion design.
Individually and collectively, the Gaussoins have received numerous awards, including from the Southwestern Association of Indian Arts Indian Market, Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council Annual Summer Show, the Heard Museum Indian Fair, and Idylwild Arts Academy. Examples of their work are housed in the permanent collections of the San Diego Museum of Man in California, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, and the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. Their diversification in jewelry art forms is only exceeded by their community service work. All of the Gaussoins remain involved in the Picuris Pueblo and Navajo communities, and they spend time volunteering in the Santa Fe school system and diverse programs such as the Santa Fe Girls Club, the Institute Of American Indian Arts, and the Pueblo Opera Program.
The School for Advanced Research is pleased to welcome Connie, David, and Wayne Gaussoin. During their tenure at the Indian Arts Research Center, mother and sons will collaborate on creating a seed bowl incorporating unique and individual brands of artistic style and pattern. Family involvement and how individual members work, learn, and share ideas together—these will be the themes of the 2006 Rollin and Mary Ella King Native Artist Fellowship.
Visit the Gaussoin’s website at www.tsosie-gaussoin.com.