Preston Duwyenie

His Hopi name is Lomaiquilvaa–Carried in Beauty. This name was given to him after a relative had carried the sleeping boy home late at night following his initiation ceremony. How appropriate that name has become his hallmark. The world outside the Hopi Pueblo knows him as Preston Duwyenie: artist, teacher, father, friend.

Born in Hotevilla, the third of three mesas on which the Hopi people have lived for centuries, Duwyenie grew up with beauty all around him. “Everyone has an art. My mother was a basket weaver, my father a Katsina carver. You grow up learning how to make art.” This may be true, but as with art in any cultural context, there is bad, mediocre, and exceptional. Duwyenie’s efforts definitely fall into the latter category and beyond. The simplicity of balance, textures, and colors within his ceramic and metalwork sets this soft-spoken man’s art far apart from his contemporaries.

Like his ancestors he gathers his clay just outside the pueblos, he offers prayers to the earth while digging the clay, and like them he is inspired by the beauty and awesome strength of nature. He uses potting techniques that have been utilized for more than a thousand years, but in terms of style, there is a point where Duwyenie steps outside this realm.

After moving away from the pueblo as a boy, Duwyenie learned of life in the mainstream by growing up and working in Phoenix. The thought of pursuing the arts as a career did not come to mind until, by chance during the summer of 1978, Duwyenie and his family passed through Santa Fe during the Indian Market festivities. It was there that he discovered the Institute of American Indian Arts. Shortly after, he enrolled and finished his degree there and moved on to the arts program of Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Duwyenie graduated with honors from CSU in 1984, and accepted a teaching assistantship there for the next few years while he began work on his master’s degree. In 1988, Duwyenie moved to Santa Fe where he accepted a position as professor of traditional pottery and jewelry at the Institute of American Indian Arts. In 1996 he relinquished his position to focus on his art full time.

Duwyenie considers himself to be relatively conservative, not abruptly changing styles or mediums, as so many artists seem to, searching for a sort of artistic commitment. His designs are rooted in centuries old legends of the earth’s creation, of how time began, and of how it passes. His shifting sands series integrates ceramic and metal, reflecting one moment in time for the artist. He remembers watching a smooth pebble caught in sand being shifted by the wind, “there was beauty in its isolation within the sea of sand. It was like an island.” Among other things the series symbolizes for the artist “the endless sands of time, and the fact that people, too are tossed about by the wind. There is always rippling in our lives.”

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