Mel Cornshucker, Cherokee
Mel is a Cherokee artist from Oklahoma, and has been producing his own line of pottery since 1977. His works include wheel-thrown and hand-built stoneware, porcelain, sandblasted porcelain, raku, and wood-fired pieces. Mel’s pieces are functional, aesthetic or both. These pieces are microwave, dishwasher, and oven-safe.
The pottery of Mel Cornshucker has been exhibited in several museums and galleries, such as the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona and the Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has won numerous awards and is widely sought in international collections.
Mel and his family live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he maintains his studio. He also teaches and features his work in his own studio/gallery there.
Mel’s company is called Dragonfly Arts, as the dragonfly has significant meaning to the Cherokee people. Dragonfly brings the water, which is life, and reflects light as a symbol of beauty.
Mary Tafoya, Kewa
I love discovering American Indian artists who are doing exceptional work, and one of these is Kewa jeweler Mary L. Tafoya. Although Mary has been working for quite some time, her work has recently gained tremendous recognition. She is from Santo Domingo Pueblo, or what we now call Kewa Pueblo. As a child, Mary Tafoya learned to make jewelry by helping her parents, Frank and Anita Coriz, make the “depression era” necklaces. These came out of Santo Domingo during the Great Depression when times were so tough that jewelry materials were difficult to come by. Enterprising artists including Mary Tafoya’s family took found materials” like hair combs, old plastic toothbrushes, phonograph records and battery casings, cut them into pieces, and imaginatively glued the pieces together to form mosaic-like patterns on necklaces and earrings. This “depression jewelry” has since become quite popular and highly collectible. In fact, Mary Tafoya’s mother, Anita, who is now in her late 80’s, is soon going to be identifying the makers of these necklaces for the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.
Today, Mary Tafoya’s jewelry still shows the influence of her earliest work; she still creatively cuts and arranges materials to form a design on her jewelry. This time, though, the materials are natural items like shells, turquoise, coral, and pipestone. Once designed, Mary then uses a mixture of jet to create a foundation that will hold her design in place on a serpentine base. Mary is quick to emphasize that almost every piece she makes is composed on a segment of serpentine, for this is her special trademark. For her necklaces, Mary Tafoya also hand-cuts and hand-shapes her own beads from shells and stones. The resulting jewelry is exceedingly unique, graphic, and exciting. In fact, Mary never repeats any piece to look like any one that she has made before. This handmade, one-of-a-kind quality makes Mary Tafoya’s work highly collectible.
On a recent visit with Mary Tafoya at her home, I was struck by just how talented Mary really is. Standing in Mary’s workshop among buckets of large shells, I realized that Mary is really like a graphic designer – she’s hand cutting and shaping these shells and other stones to create geometric shapes like circles and squares that will eventually become bold jewelry designs. I’m so impressed that what she’s doing is entirely her own concept – it isn’t derivative of anyone else. I’m also amazed that she’s able to keep her prices very modest considering that everything is handmade and original. You would think that after 35 years in the business, I would have seen it all, but artists like Mary L. Tafoya still surprise me with their skill and originality.
On a personal note, I’ve become a friend and spent wonderful times visiting her in her Kewa Pueblo home.
Royce "Eagle Boy" Kohlmeyer, Jemez Pueblo
Eagle Boy Originals specializes in Native American hand-crafted & one-of-a-kind silver and turquoise jewelry. His attention to detail and complicated silver work is his forte.
Royce Kohlmeyer (Eagle Boy) is an award-winning artist from Jemez Pueblo and works out of his studio in Albuquerque, NM. We have represented his work for over 35 years, and are honored to work with such a talented, creative and popular artist. Royce has received numerous awards, including blue ribbons from the famed Santa Fe Indian Market.