IF YOU GO

What: Jewelry workshop with Venaya Yazzie

When: 3:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Aztec Senior-Community Center, 101 S. Park Ave.

Cost: Free

Reserve your seat: Seating is limited to 15. To reserve a seat, call the library at 505-334-7657.

AZTEC — A local Diné and Hopi artist wants to promote cultural diversity and creative self-expression by helping people make jewelry.


On Tuesday, Venaya Yazzie will present a hands-on workshop and talk on the subject of cultural jewelry and Southwest indigenous adornment practices. The free event will be held at the Aztec Senior-Community Center.


The event will be hosted by the Aztec Public Library as part of its cultural awareness program. The library's director, Sabrina Hood, and program director, Angela Watkins, started the program last year.


"Sabrina and I discovered Venaya's incredible work last summer during the library's first cultural festival (where Yazzie was selling her artwork) and were amazed both by how beautiful it was and her extensive knowledge of Native American culture," Watkins said. "She's a true artist and educator."


Yazzie will provide insights into southwestern jewelry as cultural items of the Navajo and Pueblo. She will share historical photographs of Navajo people wearing a wide array of jewelry as inspiration.


With a deeper understanding of the cultural traditions from which Yazzie's work stems, participants will be able to design and create one cultural jewelry item to take home. All materials for making jewelry will be provided.


Yazzie's heritage is rooted in the Huerfano and Chaco Canyon region of the eastern Navajo Nation, yet she also carries her father's Hopi heritage from northern Arizona.


"One of the major goals of our cultural awareness program is to bring people together and learn everything from what you think, believe and eat to how that wider understanding enriches all of us in the Four Corners area," Watkins said. "Venaya's talents certainly carry all of us further along toward that goal."


An alumnus of the University of New Mexico, Fort Lewis College and the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Arts in Santa Fe, Yazzie is currently a member of the Northwest New Mexico Arts Council and has been an artist-in-residence of the Bisti Writing Project at San Juan College. According to her blog, Yazzie uses her artwork to keep alive the historical and modern practices of Diné peoples by tracing her own family's history with contemporary flourish.


"My memories of my childhood always include seeing my great-grandmother and Jane (her maternal grandmother) wearing turquoise and silver jewelry in their daily lives and today as an adult such memories are my medicine," she writes in her blog, indigenousadornment.blogspot.com.


"Today, I live my life by their ideals and cultural beliefs; today, I have my own collection of Indigenous jewelry pieces; and today I partake in Navajo adornment."


Yazzie's handmade artwork and photographs are on display at the Aztec Public Library, 319 S. Ash St., until Tuesday's workshop.


"If this works, we'll hold another workshop in November as part of Native American Heritage month," Watkins said. "It's another learning and sharing adventure in Aztec."




James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and jfenton@daily-times.com. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.