Corwin Yamutewa, a Zuni Pueblo carver, was featured as our December 2020 Keshi Artist Spotlight. Corwin was kind in providing us a brief artist’s bio in his own words.
My name is Corwin Yamutewa, I am an enrolled tribal member of the Pueblo of Zuni. My clans are Frog Clan and Child of the Crow clan.
I first picked up fetish carving in the summer of 2003, from the well known Master Carver, Brian Yatsattie. I would watch him carve in his workshop, from sun up to sun down. One day, he asked me if I would like to give it a try. Then as the saying goes "the rest is history”.
A few years passed and I started to develop my own style. Inlaying my bears with black jet and rabbits with pink mussel shell, then eventually doing inlay work on other animals I carve.
I am now well known for my bears and bunnies. I carve traditional animals such as bears, mountain lions, badgers, wolves/coyotes and on occasion, moles and eagles (our six directional animals). I also carve some non traditional animals such as armadillos, swans, snakes and panda bears.
Aside from fetish carving, my summers are spent firefighting. I currently hold a position on the Zuni International [Interagency] Hotshot Crew, based out of Zuni NM. We get called out anywhere in the US region to assist in fire suppression for 14 days at a time, sometimes longer. I am a third generation firefighter and I've been on the crew since 2011.
Fetish carving runs on my father's side of the family. My late uncle Rufus Comosona was a fetish necklace maker. My aunt Carol Martinez and her daughters, Clissa and Felissa Martin are also fetish carvers from my dad's side of the family. My late Grandfather Benito Yamutewa also carved at one point in his life.
My choice of stone to work with is rough white marble, Picasso marble, apple coral and turquoise. Soft stone is my preference.
When I'm working, I pay attention to detail and will take as much time as is required on a piece to make them presentable to whoever may be interested in my work.
I always believe that "art cannot be rushed" & "you can't rush perfection".
Working at Keshi we are blessed to hear wonderful stories like this from many artists. And every time, we are amazed at how special the confluence of genetics, experience, influence, innate ability plus synchronistic timing all come together for the artists in their journeys.
Zuni Pueblo Hotshots have a long history, dating back to the 1950’s, with their sister crew the Texas Canyon Hotshot Crew based in the Angeles National Forest, just north of Los Angeles. Both crews use the Achiya:ladaba or Zuni Knifewing as their official symbol and protector.
If you would like to read more about the Zuni Hotshot Crew and others like it please follow the links below:
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