I am named after my maternal great grandmother Amanda, and my middle name Delora comes from my maternal great great-grandmother. On April 17th, 1992, my Mother Christine gave birth to me at the University of New Mexico Hospital, where my Father, maternal grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousin and two older brothers greeted me. My Mother is Choctaw, Chickasaw, Laguna, Seneca, Mescalero Apache, and German. My Father is Hopi. Being many different tribes is a result of BIA boarding schools. A few years of my life was spent living with my parents in Merced, California, Austin, Texas, and Madisonville, Louisiana. Recently, I became a recognized member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. I am fortunate to have a home in Laguna Pueblo and one in Albuquerque, so my lifestyle is both traditional and modern, just like my artwork.
In the fall of 2011, I became a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I’ve been inspired to develop my own unique artistic style. I have chosen Studio Arts as my major in order to fulfill my goals in the art of making jewelry, painting, printmaking, and digital fabrication. To further my goals, the courses offered through the Studio Arts department will ensure my advancement as a professional artist. I look forward to a hands on approach as well as enlarging my understanding of the history of contemporary Native art and Native American history, as well as European art history. Some of my goals as a professional artist include supporting my livelihood and being independent. I would also like to teach art to children, to my communities, and to the world. Not only will I teach art but through an Indigenous perspective. I feel that my generation and the future generations will need this knowledge, in order to maintain the survival of this planet. That is why I feel the need to continue my education in educating myself through Indigenous studies, so that one-day as one we can continue to build and restore this wonderful world.
Some related experiences in my field of art include visits to Hopi-land to spend time with my father’s family. There, I indulged myself in the exploration of the living symbols of tradition through attending ceremonies in the plaza. For many years my Hopi family has sponsored a clan ritual that enables me to view the motifs and symbols that display the traditional wisdom that the dancers’ movements embody. Through the dancers’ regalia I see forms, colors, shapes and texture. I’m fortunate that these rituals are still available to me as they enhance my ability to create art.
My Mother tells a story of my early leanings toward art that occurred when I was two-years old I had perfectly arranged some flowers I had gathered from the yard. In my family there are several artists and I grew up watching them create works of art. Both my aunt and uncle are jewelers, both my older brothers draw, my father makes Pueblo gourd rattles, and my Mother makes pottery and beadwork. My cousin from Zuni carves fetishes and constructs Zuni pottery. In my grandparents’ home hangs beautiful works of art on every wall. I remember going from room to room with my sketch book both admiring and copying the works of T.C. Cannon, Doc Tate Nevaquaya, Helen Hardin, Virginia Stroud, and many more. I’m grateful for these early influences that guided my youthful endeavors as an artist.
The body of my work employs designs, patterns, styles, and subject matter that express the teachings and values that embody the beliefs of the Hopi culture. In the Hopi world, the youth are initiated by their elders who teach them their responsibilities in caring for the earth, the environment, the animal world, and all their relations. So far, my family has passed these ideals to the next generation. I feel that the passing of values to the youth is necessary as our reality is that of a rapidly changing world that requires us to continually adapt. With my portrayal of traditional subject matter juxtaposed with modern objects, I hope to convey the idea that one will always accompany the other.
With regards to the passing of tradition, my Hopi elders recently arranged a naming ceremony for me in the early summer of 2014. In the white dawn of the early morning, the ceremony began with the cleansing of my hair and I was called Lehongsi, wild rice growing in a row. Together my grandmother and I faced the yellow sun while she prayed for my successful rebirth. I have faithfully recalled these events and this is my story so far…