Shared Images exhibition highlights innovative collaboration

Yazzie Johnson (Navajo) and Gail Bird (Santo Domingo/Laguna), Garnet and coral necklace with Yowah opal clasps, 18k gold, 1999, 16 inches length. Private Collection (Photo courtesy of the Heard Museum).

Yazzie Johnson (Navajo) and Gail Bird (Santo Domingo/Laguna), Garnet and coral necklace with Yowah opal clasps, 18k gold, 1999, 16 inches length. Private Collection (Photo courtesy of the Heard Museum).

PHOENIX-Innovative design and flawless technical skill distinguish the jewelry of Yazzie Johnson (Navajo) and Gail Bird (Santo Domingo/Laguna). Their masterful designs are the featured in the exhibition "Shared Images: The Jewelry of Yazzie Johnson and Gail Bird," opening Feb. 17. The exhibit will be on view through June 2007 at the Heard Museum.

Working together for more than 30 years, Johnson and Bird have built a reputation for fine art jewelry that has been described as "frequently dramatic, always wearable, and compositionally arresting," according to exhibition curator Diana Pardue. "Shared Images" takes a chronological look at the artists' work and process.

"Shared Images" presents their elegant earrings, bracelets, rings and necklaces alongside their best-known work, the thematic belts. Assembled and on view for the first time as a series will be their well-known collection of belts designed and debuted each year since 1979 at the annual Santa Fe Indian Market.

The Santa Fe Indian market belts will be among a total of 43 belts on view. Often revolving around light-hearted subjects, from dinosaurs to traffic signs, the belts exemplify the artists' skilled design executed through the utilization of diverse metals, patterns, figures and stones. Known for their juxtaposition of type, color and texture of stones and untraditional materials, from pearls to wood, Bird and Johnson's designs reveal an extensive knowledge of materials and keen sense of design.

According to Pardue, Johnson and Bird are "part of a generation of American Indian artists form the Southwest who have acknowledged and honored the tradition of their respective areas while pushing the creative boundaries and addressing contemporary concerns."

Accompanying the exhibition, the new catalogue, Shared Images: The Innovative Jewelry of Yazzie Johnson and Gail Bird by Diana Pardue, offers 180 pages featuring the artists' stunning jewelry creations. With more than 200 photographs, this catalogue takes a chronological look at the development of their work and creative collaboration. Priced at $45, the catalogue will be available at the Heard Museum Shops.

For more information, contact Nicole Haas at nhaas@heard.org or 602-251-0283.

About the Heard: Since 1929, the Heard has educated visitors from around the world about the art and cultures of Native people of the Southwest. With more than 38,500 artifacts in its permanent collection, an education center and award-winning Shop and Bookstore and café, the Heard remains committed to being a place of learning, discovery and unforgettable experiences.

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