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Meet Gerry Quotskuyva

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gerry Quotskuyva.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
As a Native American Artist, Hopi Katsina Carver, and community advocate, my feet have danced with many projects – something I have done for most of my life. I did take a break for 10 years from community work but started back at it a couple of years ago by forming a non-profit volunteer organization called the Verde Valley Ancestral Gardens.

Prior to becoming an artist, I was a student studying at Pima Community College and the University of Arizona. I didn’t finish my degree, however, due to a lack of funds and the renewal of my passion for art. I also took time off during my studies to work as a chef, a Broadcast tech doing PSAs at KUAT in Tucson, construction in Lake Tahoe, and briefly for the movie industry out of Los Angeles.

As an artist, I have participated in Museum Indian Markets for 25 years and won awards at all of the prestigious Native American Markets, including 4 Best of Show awards. My primary medium is as a Katsina Doll Carver, but I also work in acrylics on canvas, of which I have received equal recognition in both categories. Over the last several years I have dabbled with bronzes, and actually won one award but am now exploring glass. You might say I like to challenge the concept of “what is Hopi Art?”.

I also run a small non-profit volunteer organization called the Verde Valley Ancestral Gardens. We are a small group that works on Roadside Cleanup programs, in a partnership with the AZ Department of Transportation, host a Farmer’s Market with support from the local Kiwanis organization, and currently am heavily involved with our biggest project, the Heritage Garden. This Garden is in partnership with the Verde Valley Archaeology Center located in Camp Verde and has been made possible by a generous donor. The Mission of the Heritage garden is representing plants that were important to the prehistoric and Native American people of the Verde Valley. These plants will include various domesticated foods eaten by the ancient and historic inhabitants of the region, as well as wild or non-domesticated plants that were collected from the surrounding area and used for food, medicine, containers, dyes, cordage, architectural elements, and other purposes. Examples of some of the domesticated plants to be grown will include corn, different kinds of beans, squash, gourds, and cotton. Some of the wild plants will consist of wild tobacco, amaranth, beeweed, agave, yucca, sunflowers, prickly pear, and cholla, and others.

While all of this keeps a person busy, I still maintain my own garden at home, a studio in Sedona at Creative Gateways, and am trying to find a means to create a documentary about the art of Hopi Carving that features several native artists as they tell the story of their experiences as a Hopi artist. You might say, there is no clear distinction between my passions and the means in which I support myself.

Please tell us about your art.
My primary form is the carving of Hopi Katsinam/kachina. They represent spiritual beings who bring hope, faith, and strength to a traditional way of life. There are many types of katsinam, but essentially, they represent all things living. Some are healers, guards, animal figures, or even some to acknowledge groups of people or special personifications. There are even clowns reminding us all of the importance of remaining humble. The carvings are created from cottonwood roots and come in a variety of styles with different types of paints and varying qualities. They are highly collectable from countries around the world, and carry a message about life, the proliferation of the species (if an animal Katsinam), or general meanings connected with the earth. In the Bronzes, I choose to represent the culture of Hopi and appearances in everyday life or the romantic presentation of our culture. In glass, I plan to approach the universal nature of all beliefs, and how we are all from one source.

We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
The life of an artist is interesting. While some experience solitude, I find the successful ones are very outgoing filled with passion and thrive on connecting with community. Art is about expression, and the reward is appreciation from both, the casual observer and collector. I have gone through both, and search for communities with colonies of artists. For Native artists who live on their Native homelands, they tend to travel a lot for the major shows, so we have this huge network of friends from all over who we keep in touch with through social media, then have fun celebrations somewhere throughout the US frequently as we sell our work.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My work is mostly sold directly at Museum Markets but have allowed the Heard Museum to carry some pieces at times. I have also sold quite a few pieces through my Facebook and website pages online, but those usually go to previous collectors familiar with my work. I recently opened a public studio at Creative Gateways in Sedona, and they own a separate gallery called Kuivato Gass Gallery in Sedona at Tlaquepaque, so most of my work will be on display in those locations. My Website is gquotskuyva.com and FB page is https://www.facebook.com/kachinacarver.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Gerry Quotskuyva for all photos

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