In this series, the artists working at Creative Gateways give us behind-the-scenes insight into their current works in progress, inspiration, and creative challenges. Today, we look at Gerry’s exquisite mixed media paintings…
Resident artist Gerry Quotskuyva creates highly detailed pieces using a variety of mediums. From bronze sculptures to wooden carvings, Gerry captures the essence of Hopi heritage within his work. He is mostly renowned for his Katsinam/Kachina Dolls, but has recently finished a series of three-dimensional mixed media paintings that include similar carved forms as a focal point. Although Gerry has done paintings in the past, his most recent pieces are different, in that they are prototypes for an upcoming project which will be taking him into completely uncharted territory.
Gerry has always been a man of many mediums. While he enjoys painting, Gerry retired the style after his series “Ancestral Echoes” in 2004 to focus on Bronze and Wood. He describes his mixed media paintings as “modern interpretations of pictographs. Let’s call them ‘carvographs.'” Gerry incorporates a unique sand texture into these paintings, as well as hand carved, three-dimensional wood figures, making them truly “carvographs.” He creates depth both literally and through intricate shading techniques. This mixture of sand, wood, and paint mirrors the many elements on the earth, and creates a 12″x9″ ecosystem, a perfect niche for his Katsinas.
A New Vision
Since coming on as a resident artist at Creative Gateways almost a half year ago, Gerry has begun a new era of his career. He explains, when feeling uninspired, “something here opened me back up.” As he walked through the gallery for the first time and observed the glass art, a seed was planted. For weeks afterword, he continued to have visions of new ways to express his art, saying “I started dreaming again.” As a man comfortable working with a variety of materials, Gerry was enticed by the idea of embedding his style into glass, one of the few mediums he had not worked with.
But creating his art with glass proved to be problematic. “Making dolls in bronze is seen as a taboo because it’s a cold, dead medium. When you are carving, you are bringing the doll into being, harnessing the warmth of the wood, and giving the tree a kind of second life.” While glass is also a cold medium, Gerry wonders “what better way to bring something to life than with light?” His art is already full of color and texture, and the use of glass would create depth and vibrancy that cannot be attained in other mediums. The light refracted within would give his Katsinas a kind of aura, bringing them to life in a way that wood cannot.
Although Gerry has great respect for Hopi culture and heritage, he plans on going forward with his glass project despite the taboo. He explains: “I’ve always challenged the tribe in defining ‘what is Hopi art?'” Exploration of new forms is key to representing the culture in the truest way possible. While traditions have their place, some boundaries need to be pushed in order to provide different angles to view Hopi heritage. Even though Gerry is famous for his traditional Katsina Dolls, his main goal is to “represent the culture, not the Katsina.” This means embedding the light and vibrancy of his people into art, and as Gerry explains, glass “opens the door in a new way.” Through this medium, he will be trailblazing new paths to express Hopi culture to the world.
Currently, Gerry is away for a three month journey working on his Gnarly Root Project. This opportunity is hosted by the Indian Arts Research Center (IARC), a branch of the School for Advanced Research (SAR) located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Gerry explains, “I am excited, but more so, honored for the opportunity to make this dream come true.” Upon returning, he hopes to be free of backed up work orders, and be able to focus on the creative process, saying, “I’m getting it set up so I can be the artist again and play in my garden.” After decades of commission pieces in the traditional Hopi style, Gerry is excited to start a new chapter of his artistic career.
To see Gerry Quotskuyva’s most recent mixed media paintings, and the work of our other local artists, visit Creative Gateways Open Studios and Gallery, open 7 days a week, from 10am-5pm. Tour the gallery, meet the artists, and take home beautiful works of art!