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The Gnarly Root Project: SAR Welcomes Hopi Artist Gerry Quotskuyva

Sep 5, 2018

This week, SAR welcomed to campus Gerry Quotskuyva as the 2018 Rollin and Mary Ella King Native Artist Fellow. A member of the Bear Strap Clan from the Hopi Second Mesa village of Shungopavi and the grandson of an established katsina carver, Quotskuyva believes that honoring his cultural heritage is a crucial part of his art form.

Gerry Quotskuyva, image courtesy of the artist

With an artistic career that spans over two decades, Quotskuyva has become recognized for his unique carved katsina figures that blend a contemporary perspective with traditional representations. In Hopi culture katsinam are spiritual friends and guides who serve as intermediaries between the physical and metaphysical worlds. Hopi people developed carved versions of the beings as an art form to represent this spirit world.

While at SAR, Quotskuyva will sculpt a piece that has been years in the making. The Gnarly Root Project is Quotskuyva’s effort to carve a four-and-a-half-foot-tall piece of cottonwood root. He says, “I found a unique piece of cottonwood root, which is required for my art form by cultural edicts, and stored it in my garage for twelve years while it dried. The three months at SAR will give me dedicated time to focus on sculpting this special piece.”

Quotskuyva’s plan is complex. He intends to develop a series of female katsinam in flight on the face of the wood to honor the matriarch within Hopi society. The reverse side of the piece will be carved in a dioramic fashion and depict agricultural practices around a ruin site. “While I may have the initial vision, I always allow myself the freedom to follow whatever guides me, be it a creative flash, or sometimes a casual comment by a visitor,” he adds.

SAR’s Native Artist Fellowships offer artists the time and space they need to explore projects like Quotskuyva’s. For three months, artists live and work on the SAR campus in the King Residence and Dubin Studio. Each artist has access to the Indian Arts Research Center (IARC) collections for inspiration, open studio space for creative exploration, and support from IARC staff and other museum professionals.

Learn more about our 2018 Native American artist fellows here.

SAR and Gerry Quotskuyva invite you to visit him in the studio while he develops this project. Quotskuyva will keep the Dubin Studio open to the public Monday-Friday during business hours throughout his fellowship. For more information about visiting the artist call 505.954.7272.

During each fellowship, SAR asks artists to share their work with the public via a presentation and guided studio tour. Quotskuyva’s artist talk and tour will take place on Thursday, November 15, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. at SAR. The talk and tour are free and open to the public.

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