In the Klah Gallery
November 11, 2001 – April 28, 2002
Works from the Wheelwright’s permanent collection are displayed with pieces loaned by other museums and private collectors. More than 100 pieces document 30 years of this ever-evolving art form. Among the nearly 50 artists in the show are Mike Bird (San Juan Pueblo), McKee Platero (Navajo), Perry Shorty (Navajo), Verma Nequatewa (Hopi), Richard Chavez (San Felipe Pueblo), and Phil Loretto (Jemez Pueblo).
Jewelry has had a rich and varied history in the cultures and economies of southwestern peoples. Jewelry design has often been inspired by textiles and pottery. Today contemporary life ö in the form of automobiles, airplanes, road signs, and other imagery ö is a conspicuous influence. Artists have experimented with unusual techniques to create a startling range of styles, often blending them harmoniously with ancestral methods and patterns.
Early innovator Charles Loloma (Hopi) created bracelets set with multiple stones at different levels to recreate the contours of the southwestern terrain. Kenneth Begay (Navajo) broke new ground in the 1940s with a style of jewelry which restored the classic Navajo balance between metal and stone. Contemporary masters Gail Bird (Santo Domingo/Laguna) and Yazzie Johnson (Navajo) are best known for their thematic concha belts, which include such clever and amusing depictions as Slippery When Wet.