Artisans program making “Grandmother’s<br>Dream” come true for Hopi artists

As artisans, Roy Talahaftewa and Victor Lee Masayesva know the challenges—and the rewards—of starting a successful business. Now, the two are sharing their experiences with other aspiring artists, starting an enterprise at Second Mesa called So-oh’s Tunatya, or Grandmother’s Dream.

This artist-training project, a series of workshops for Hopi silversmiths, teaches new techniques, time management and good marketing practices, and will enable self-employed Hopi artisans to be inspired, successful and self-sustaining.

The six workshops include tufa casting, stone mounting, hollow forms, gold over silver, metal marriages and other techniques requested by the local artists.

Grandmother’s Dream is named in honor of Roy’s mother, Evangeline Talahaftewa. An Arizona Living Treasure, she was known for her traditional coil basket making. She would love to see the young artists schooled in these principals and encouraged to make a living through traditional arts, and in fact, she often strictly advised Roy and Victor as young men to follow a path of diligence and hard work with their art.

The project is sponsored through Hopi Pu’tavi Projects, Inc, a non-profit organization that supports efforts on the Hopi reservation to improve the quality of life for Hopi Youth and their families through recreation, education and economic development. Hopi Pu’tavi recognizes the need for this type of class since only a few Hopi artists are able to realize success and actually support their families with adequate resources. Even though the artists may have skills and talent as artisans, they may lack of knowledge or experience with future planning, expense tracking, budgeting, marketing, and other time and money management issues.

The marketing and expense tracking are things that Roy and Victor really hope to help the local artists to understand better. In addition, both men have mastered a variety of techniques, which they hope will inspire the artists to try new and more creative work.

“While Hopi silver work remains at the highest quality for overlay on the market, the style has seemed to suffer a stagnation in the creative aspect of the work. New techniques and ideas, and mutual support in trying new methods, will spark the creative process while artists refocus to maintain integrity in more versatile work,” Roy Talahaftewa says.

Talahaftewa, is a respected artist inside and outside the Hopi community. He brings twenty-one years of jewelry making experience to the project. He is joining with Victor Lee Masayesva, an innovative, younger artist whose creative pieces are well known in the southwest and who has a background in marketing, shows and instruction.

These will not be ordinary workshops, but rather opportunities for Hopi Artists to inspire one another, and sustain one another by staying on in the shop to finish projects, working together and to offer support during ongoing work and learning sessions as well.

The project is trying to raise money to defray costs for participating artists. They are offering the class to artists at 40% of the cost and raising money to cover remaining expenses through donations, grants and community events. Eventually, the project will move into Phase Two, which will allow Roy, Victor and other interested artisans to mentor the youth in learning the traditional Hopi art skills.

“You get what you get from society and you put back in what you can and what you need to,” says Roy Talahaftewa, “I’ve always believed that. Victor says that we create things out of nothing. It comes from our hearts, and from a higher source. That is the most important thing. We are all given a gift of some kind. It is important we use it and make the best of it, and that we share with each other.”

Fostering these principles is what So-oh’s Tunatya is about. It is the essence of the project. So far, it has gotten off to a great start.

For more information, Roy Talahaftewa and Victor Lee Masayesva may be reached at 737-5417.

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