Welcome to another Contemporary Spotlight – This series was created to celebrate the Contemporary Navajo artist, and get to know a little bit about their thought process when it comes to design, inspiration, and execution. These events will allow the viewer an inside look at the artist, and interact with them in a respectful manner. Today we are celebrating the art of Navajo Siversmith Fritz Casuse – We hope you enjoy our time together, so let’s get started.
DY: Hello Fritz, Thank you for being here today – We are very excited to have you in the group. Since we are new to your work, please give us a short Bio about your life prior to becoming a working artist.
FC: Hello IDavid, I’m am too!! My name is Fritz Casuse Dine’ and I’m from Twin Lakes NM. My work speaks for itself, but at times I have to share and educate my creations. I enjoy that part, because I get to talk about the stories or process behind the creative meanings!! I started out as a sculptor and when introduced to jewelry, I imagined small wearable sculptural pieces of jewelry. Challenging myself with every piece, each design feed from the next. Creating his meditation it puts me in a place I love to be. I always say that my creative art heals me.
DY: Did you go to school for sculpture design? and what kind of sculpture?
FC: Yes I did at The institute of American Indian arts in Santa Fe New Mexico. I worked with different kinds of clay and created a lot of figures and structural shapes.
DY: We are going to ask you a series of questions that we ask all our artists, to allow us a look into your life as an artist. Please feel free to share images of your work, and projects underway as you answer these questions.
DY: Where did you learn Silversmithing & What attracted you to it?
FC: I took a basic jewelry class at IAIA with instructor Lane Coulter. I would I would visit family members who were jewelers and it was just something I wanted to try . I never asked to learn from them so there was a class offered at I and I took advantage of it. Not knowing what to expect, learn the process in different techniques, but never really got to create what I wanted. What I did learn is to be very patient.
DY: Do you have any photos of your sculpture prior to working in jewelry?
DY: So, to circle back to the previous question – Did you have a mentor that could help guide you as you began making jewelry? Or was there any artist at the time that inspired you?
FC: Not really, just the basic jewelry class I took. I was so excited I went to a pawn shop a bought a used acetylene torch and some tools. My working table was the floor very primitive. It was a lot of trial and error’s, experimenting with the materials. There was really no one to talk or share my experience with this, sure was a lot of trips to the supply store to see what would work for my ideas!! Lol
DY: So you enjoy the experimental process?
FC: I SURE DO working with mother earths creation and incorporating them with my artistic ideas.
DY: Do you remember the first piece you ever sold? What was it?
FC: It was a pair of earrings made of abalone and spiney oyster shells cut and polished with geometric shapes . I enjoy working with organic materials
DY: Do you have a photo of those earrings?
FC: Sorry I don’t, wish I had taken photos of earlier pieces
DY: Fritz Casuse No worries, what is your favorite organic material to work with?
FC: Pearls !!
DY: One of my favorites!
FC: Yei bracelet…
DY: beautiful! Tell us more about this piece! What inspired it? what Materials are used here? is the cuff portion cast from Cuttle fish?
FC: Cuttlebone cast silver anti-clastic shape bracelet with fabricated parts. Royston turquoise, pearls red coral and 14 kt. Inspired by my culture of who I am and where I’m from.
DY: that is amazing, so much thought put into this piece. was this an earlier piece? or a current?
FC: Some current pieces
FC: Here’s another similar…
DY: Beautiful, Man you can really see the Sculptural aesthetic in your work! It’s really well balanced.
DY: Let’s talk about inspiration – What/Where do you look for inspiration before beginning a project?
FC: A LOT has to do with family, who I am, where I’m from and my SON who’s also an artist and teaching. This piece is in memory of one of my grandmothers…
DY: This is another beautiful piece – I love that family inspires a big part of your work – can you expand on this piece? how do you go about finding the perfect material? and how long does it take you to carve the turquoise?
FC: Once I have an idea on what I want to create. There is always a foundation from there I start fabricating up. Making sure that everything go as planned. It does take me that long to carve, it’s the cleaning that and polishing of stone takes a while.
DY: i’ve never carved a stone, how soft is the turquoise to carve? and what tools do you have to use?
FC: You have to make sure there’s no natural fractures in the stone before you carve. From there I look at the size and what I want to carve into the stone. Make sure it’s natural and hard to withstand the diamond bits i use.
FC: Sculptural Moveable Ring & Three finger Spiderweb ring
DY: this is a beauty!
DY: What is the most challenging part of your creative process? And why?
FC: I say it has to be when fabricating a piece with all that’s being added I need to be very clean from beginning to end. So there’s a lot of chemicals involved through my creative process
FC: Buffalo buckle
DY: Oh i LOVE this one! Was this piece cast?
FC: Tufa Cast
DY: What part of the silversmithing process do you enjoy most?
FC: The symbolic , there’s a lot we go through in our daily lives. From what’s happening in my personal life and the world that concerns me. I take all of that Energy and create beauty. It’s like talking and sharing with the Creator with the role of mountain tobacco that is released . It’s a way of healing myself
DY: This is gorgeous! Man i really like the mixed-media piece of your work! Very Inspiring..
DY: wow, thanks for sharing – In your opinion, how do silversmiths of the past inspire what the contemporary artists create today? And why?
FC: I think silversmiths back then using traditional techniques were contemporary. Are use traditional techniques and my work is considered contemporary but years from now it may be considered traditional.
FC: Hey sculptor working out his bench- ring
DY: Good answer – You know, one of the reasons i started this group was to celebrate the Contemporary Working Artist, and for that reason..
DY: What pieces have you created and sold in the past that you wish you would have held on to? Is there an emotional attachment to your pieces? Why?
FC: All of THEM lol !! I use to be, but knowing there going to a good place and they enjoy. There taking a part of me into their homes and lives. How exciting is that “VERY HONORED and BLESSED”.
DY: it has to be exciting to know that your work spoke to someone, and it can be with them 24/7.
DY: In your opinion, what part has social media played in the NA business whether positive or negative?
FC: It’s hard to say, for me it’s good to show who I am and my beauties. It helps to share and educate the viewers and to inspire others. We are all individually gifted.
DY: In your opinion, what role does an artist play in society, and how do you use your work to achieve this?
FC: Aside from my art I teach as well. I’ve been teaching jewelry for about 18 years. I love teaching and sharing with my students. For them to feel the same way when creating that I feel. All that I’ve been blessed with I give back with teaching!!
DY: that is wonderful, sounds like you enjoy giving back, sharing your pearls of wisdom. That is very powerful indeed.
DY: Last question, what are your future plans, and where do you hope to see yourself in 10 years?
FC: Continue creating beautiful works of art, working side-by-side with my son. Maybe I’ll be working for him lol !! Keep teaching, sharing my knowledge ” The ripple effect “
DY: ha ha ha, i love that!
DY: Fritz, Thank you for being here today and Thank You for taking time out of your busy schedule to share with the group a little about yourself & your craft. We would love to see more of your work if you have any other photos, and please share with us throughout the year what you are working on! Happy 2018!
FC: Thank you IDavid, it was an honor to share a little of myself today!! And thank you all blessings
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