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. We hope you enjoy our time together.
Hello Donovan, 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?
DC: Basically, Silversmithing is my life, it was only natural that I practice the skill and it has now become the financial livelihood of my own family. I have lived on the Navajo Nation, an Indian reservation equivalent to the size of West Virginia all my life, employment is limited leaving me with no other option but to be a silversmith, a trait that allows me to be with my family, otherwise, like many others, I would have to move away to neighboring cities for employment. Being here, I am now able to be a part of my granddaughter’s life. My late brother, David Reeves introduced me to this trade, through David I was introduced to Eric Bonecutter of Albuquerque, New Mexico. As a silversmith for Eric, I was able to gain some financial independence. Family practice and sustainable financial independence that allows me to provide for my growing family are my attributes to being a silversmith.
DY: Did you have a mentor that guided you?
DC: My late brother, David Reeves introduced me to this trade, through David I was introduced to Eric Bonecutter of Albuquerque, New Mexico. As a silversmith for Eric, I was able to gain some financial independence. Family practice and sustainable financial independence that allows me to provide for my growing family are my attributes to being a silversmith.
DY: Do you work on any other creative projects outside of silversmithing?
DC: My sole concentration is Silversmithing, I have not tried any other creative/artistic outlets and don’t recall having any other interest
DY: Do you remember the first piece you ever sold? What was it?
DC: A sterling silver concho belt that was sold almost immediately to Turney’s in Gallup, New Mexico. Simple gratitude and a sense of accomplishment, knowing I have made money to benefit my family.
DY: What/Where do you look for inspiration before beginning a project?
DC: My Childhood. Growing up on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, the landscape and environment provides endless inspiration. A favorite project, a sterling silver jewelry box with a scorpion and spider made of sterling silver on the box, Perry Null’s of Gallup, New Mexico purchased this box. Creativity is endless on the Navajo Nation.
DY: What is the most challenging part of your creative process? And why?
DC: The process of linking the design with the silver, stamp and the stone. The stone is the catalyst on the direction the design will be created. The stamp forms limitless of possibilities, a unique creation, each time.
DY: What part of the silversmithing process do you enjoy most?
DC: A finished piece, knowing from its creation, formation and completion, the product is a satisfying, completed piece.
DY: I noticed that your pieces have a nod to the Antique, what is the connection?
DC: It is a personal like, I’ve always liked the antique-ish look in native sterling silver jewelry. I also finish in high shine, but prefer the antique finish.
DY: In your opinion, how do silversmiths of the past inspire what the contemporary artists create today? And why?
DC: The past utilized a heavy gauge, making the stamping more prominent and utilizing stones, quality stones, both trademarks of the importance, significance of the trade.
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?
DC: Truthfully, no emotional attachments, I see each piece as a contribution to society, with creativity, its beauty believing it will have a positive impact on at least one life.
DY: In your opinion, what part has social media played in the NA business whether positive or negative?
DC: Social media is a positive and basically, free advertising. I get many positive responses, inquiries and orders from many, from various locations so I am good with social media from an artisan perspective.
DY: In your opinion, what role does an artist play in society, and how do you use your work to achieve this?
DC: A big role, I think. Creati
vity is a positive outlet, I believe extends to those who appreciate beauty craftsmanship and the dedication an artist puts into a piece.
DY: Finally, what are your future plans, and where do you hope to see yourself in 10 years?
DC: A goal or dream, the day my granddaughter will see a piece and display her appreciation or even dislike of a piece. The day she says, “Grandpa, I like that” with purity, I will know I’ve done a good job in creating something beautiful – she will be my gauge. Silversmithing has rendered financial independence for me, to ensure my family has food on the table, heat in the home and clothing. It is also a big part of my children in their higher education endeavors. Silversmithing has been good to my family and I.
Thank you for being here today, and taking time out of your busy schedule to share with the group a little about yourself & work.