July 13, 2009

Lomatewama the Hopi glassblower

Artists explore traditional and new media at Indian Market

By Doug CookMore than a decade ago, Hopi artist Ramson Lomatewama broke the mold in the Native American arts community when he delved into glass-blowing. And yet despite pursuing a non-traditional medium, he did not abandon his cultural roots.

Today, Lomatewama creates conventional glass pieces such as bowls, vases and hummingbird feeders, but he incorporates the traditional Hopi cultural themes of nature and the spirit world into them--as well as Indian figurines--using myriad pieces of colored glass.

"As Hopis, our main vehicle for communicating is the use of color," Lomatewama said Friday before the 12th annual Prescott Indian Art Market this weekend on the Sharlot Hall Museum's plaza. "In Hopi culture, different colors symbolize different concepts or ideas."

Lomatewama, who demonstrated glass-blowing in a vacant lot next to the museum Saturday, said part of the reason he attends shows such as Sharlot Hall's is to educate the public about Indian artists who are transitioning from traditional Native American art to more contemporary forms.

"There is a sector of the world that still believes Native American art should be pottery, porcupine quill work and flutes--what's come to be stereotypical items," he said. "It's an awakening for some people. Once we explain to them all the ins and outs of glass art and Native American culture, then it seems to spark another way of looking at art and cultures in general."
Comment:  I met Lomatewama at one or two of the Southwest Museum's Intertribal Marketplaces.

Below:  "Hopi artist Ramson Lomatewama shapes a piece of glass. Lomatewama's art remains true to his culture although he uses a non-traditional medium." (Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier)

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