Friday, August 13, 2010

Charles Loloma

18K, diamonds and Mediterranean coral
pendant and ring set by Charles Loloma (Hopi)
The Shop recently acquired a phenomenal pendant and ring set by Native American jewelry icon Charles Loloma (Hopi) and it just went online for all to see!

Here's a bio:
Charles Loloma was born in 1921 on the Hopi Reservation at the village of Hotevilla at Third Mesa, Arizona. His parents, Rex and Rachel Loloma were accomplished artists in their own right. His name, Loloma is the masculine word for beauty in the Hopi language. He was a member of the Badger Clan and throughout his life stayed very involved in Hopi ceremonies and community.

Loloma was an early prodigy and studied under Fred Kabotie at Hopi High School in Oraibi and, recognizing his talent, Fred invited Loloma to work with him on the Awatovi murals at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, after which he went on to study at the Phoenix Indian school under Lloyd Kiva New, one of the founders of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1941, he was drafted for WWII and spent 3 years of his service in the Aleutians working as a camouflage expert. After his discharge, he attended the School for American Craftsmen at Alfred University in New York where he studied ceramics, which was traditionally a woman’s art in Hopi culture and began Loloma’s lifelong habit of breaking boundaries.

In 1949, he returned to Hopi to study the indigenous clays of the area through a Whitney Foundation Fellowship. When the fellowship was almost up, he decided to join his former teacher Lloyd Kiva New at his newly formed Kiva Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, an arts center, which for the first time, created a workplace and an outlet for Native American artists to deal directly with the public rather than through trading post dealers. It was in this creative and open climate that Loloma turned his attention to metals, teaching himself basic techniques from the book, The Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths by John Adair. As an artist whose first training was in painting, Loloma did not follow traditional styles of metalworking. He treated the metal and stones, many of which had never been used in Native American jewelry but are commonly used today, as a painter and a sculptor (from his training in ceramics), building colorful abstractions of form and design that pushed the boundaries of what jewelry could be. His work, in fact, was so innovative that it was initially poorly received as not being “Indian” enough and was rejected by the Gallup Intertribal Art Show 3 times. He went on later to win the Scottsdale National Indian Art Exhibition 7 years in a row. He had 2 shows in Paris, was featured on PBS in 1972 and was an artist in residence in Japan in 1974.

He was one of the artists whose ideas helped lead to the founding of the Southwest Indian Arts Project, which led to the creation of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he taught for 3 years. After he left there, Loloma returned home to Hotevilla and continued to create. His niece Verma Naquetewa became his apprentice and they worked together for 23 years. During Loloma’s 30 year career, he was celebrated internationally and included in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in American Art. He died in 1991.

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