“It’s so much more personal,” Scott explained.
She went on to speak of the joy and energy of fine hand crafted items, as opposed to those that can be had at large retail stores for a couple of dollars.
In Lohnes’ work, Scott and other jury members saw yet another form of fine craftsmanship and accepted a hand-beaded, hand stitched Plains dress, as well as a glistening floral belt.
“We looked at the attention to detail, all of those tiny beads sewn into place, and we saw her work as a part of the culture as a whole,” Scott said. “Most people [globally] believe that Americans don’t even have a culture beyond Wal-Mart or K-Mart, and we do. That’s what this show is all about.”
The dress would be hard to miss—hanging in the bright lights of what Flagstaff gallery owner Ruth Ann Border described as the “primordial spot” in the Center’s gallery.
“This location gives this piece a powerful perspective,” Border said.
There was another reason why Border said she was drawn to Lohnes’ dress, sharing that she had been gifted with an elk-hide dress several years ago. Up until seeing Lohnes’ work, she said she had found no inspiration as motivation to decorate the gift.
In conversation with Border, Lohnes explained her own inspiration.
“When I first start working with a piece, I lay out the colors. In my dress, the bead colors were drawn from the [abalone] shell disks on the piece,” Lohnes said.
An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, Lohnes does include Navajo design in her work. However, her multicultural insight takes her far beyond the boundaries of the Four Sacred Mountains.
“My father was Lakota, and I draw inspiration from the Plains and Ojibwa tribes,” she added.
Border recognizes what she calls an integral connection between the buyer and a piece of art—one that is enhanced when one is able to meet the artist.
As a graphics artist and gallery owner, Border understands the psyche of an artist.
“Art is unique,” Border expressed. “It’s your way of life.”
“It’s Elemental” will run through Dec. 18 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free.
Sponsors for “It’s Elemental” include the Arizona Commission of the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Flagstaff, Coconino County, Flagstaff Handweaver’s Guild and Pine Country Quilts.
The Coconino Center for the Arts is located at 2300 N. Fort Valley Road (behind the Pioneer Museum). Call 928-779-2300 or visit the website at www.culturalpartners.org for more information.
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