Painted Feathers: Native American Artists Demonstrate their Crafts

August 11, 2023

The fifth annual American Indian Art Festival was held under the trees at Aztec Ruins National Monument. It was nearly a hundred degrees in the shade, but the artists remained cool through the two-day event. Weavers, potters, painters, and jewelers came from all over the Southwest regions of the Four Corners, including Teec Nos Pos in Arizona and the ancient pueblo of Acoma, three hours south of Aztec. The artists demonstrated their various techniques and also sold their crafts. The event was supported by the Chaco Culture Conservancy. By Donna K. Hewett. This story is sponsored by Pop’s Truck & RV Center and The Big Idea Makerspace at San Juan College

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The fifth annual American Indian Cultural Art Fest was recently held on the 900 year old grounds of the Aztec Ruins National Monument. Free to tourists and locals, the art fest took place beneath the trees in the picnic area of the park where potters, weavers, and jewelry makers demonstrated their craft in 100 degree heat. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by Pop's Truck and RV Center, and the Big Idea Makerspace at San Juan College. I'm Hayley Opsal. The artists work quietly at tables in the shade. Florinda Vallo is a fourth generation potter from the Acoma Pueblo. The oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States. I take this little dish here and I insert it there. And that will give me the base for the beginning of my pot, which kind of will look like this. I invert it, and this is the finished product. All I have to do is let it sun dry, where this one is still in the raw stage. You can see where I added on the layer. And once I finished doing that, I will simply get a straight edge sort of a tool that I can use to scrape off the excess clay. Making that blended part disappear.

while Florinda makes the pots, her husband, Leland Vallo, paints them with a yucca leaf and Spanish ink. He was working on a commissioned wedding base.

On all my pottery work is re-lined twice or three times. So to make sure the paint stays directly even on the pottery. So when you look at it, the whole pot is evenly painted with that color, and there's no spaces or anything that are given away from it. So I simply, again, put my brush in, and I simply pull it towards me. Trying to keep the pottery still as possible, and I simply just pull the brush towards me.

Artists from various nations in the Southwest, including Zuni, Hopi, and Laguna, come to the fest each year to show, and tell, and to sell their unique pieces.

One of the first stages of making a bracelet that I'm making I hand carved. This is melted scrap silver into a mold that I create from tufa stone. You can do it out of sandstone or sand cast. This particular one is tufa cast, and then it lay out the designs out on it. So that one is not finished yet. When it's finished, it's going to look kind of like that.

Roy Kady is a weaver. from Teec Nos Pos in Arizona where he raises Navajo sheep to create his vegetable dyed yarns.

I am starting a horse cinch weaving for a horse. And if you know anything about the cinches, it's the belt that goes around the belly bottom that holds the the saddle in place. So I'm just barely starting it. So I'm just making my rounds back and forth using just this one color, which is black. And then later, after I've woven about a couple of inches, then the design will start.

The American Indian Art Fest is made possible with help from the Chaco Culture Conservancy. A nonprofit organization that supports education, interpretation, and funding for the Aztec National Monument, and Chaco Cultural National Historical Park. To learn more about this and other stories, go to Thank you for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Hayley Opsal.


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