Ayóó Nizhóní

MAY 22, 2014

PHOENIX, AZ – Lady love Adrienne Keene, of Native Appropriations, commissioned me to create a pair of earrings for her adviser. First, totally humbled that she’d ask. But it was befitting that she request a pair for a woman that provided much strength, encouragement, and guidance during her most recent academic journey. Adrienne graduates with her Ph.D. in Education from Harvard next week. In all, it was an ayóó nizhóní “(very beautiful) project! I’m so glad Adrienne loved it. Much Love and Congrats to DR. AK!


This one-of-a-kind set is called “4th World Emergence Imagined” because it truly showcases the equal amount of creativity and skill of my collaboration with Jeff Slim.

The top section of each earring is a silver bezel inlaid with the four sacred stones: white shell, turquoise, abalone, and jet. Both earrings have a different inlay pattern. Each stone was given great attention and care. At the end, I smiled realizing my lapidary design harked back to childhood memories of my dad’s late 1970s/ early 1980’s jewelry style. That made me happy.

The bottom section is from the NOTABOVE x JSLIM earring collaboration. Adrienne requested the bottom in copper due to its connection with most Southeastern jewelry designs. Detailed images, below:

Here is a brief description of the story the earrings depict, as told by J:

“[This is part of] a 2013-2014 collaborative series between two friends. Basically winter fun and an expansion of each others’ general creative format. Nanibaa is pulling from her work experience in her father’s shop and has grown into her own unique style. Simple, sassy, and mini saws. As for me, it’s an opportunity to work beyond stencils on photographs and UPS slaps. I decided to create mini depictions of Navajo creation stories I’ve read and heard. Rather than constructing random doodles, designing with a meaning was a challenge. I have nothing against spontaneity, it’s those arbitrary lines that fill the void beautifully. But for this series, I wanted to do more with the limited space an earring has to offer. I feel Nanibaa would concur.

“The bottom of the earrings of are waves from the flood in the third world that forced the beings of the 3rd World to emerge to the 4th. The center is the female reed that transported the beings to the 4th world… A world of light, hence the sunshine at the top. The third world was dark.

The earring is shaped like a locust because it was the first being to emerge into the forth world and it was that being who got acceptance from the beings of the forth world to approve of the migration of beings from the 3rd world.”

Process images are a brass version:

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