Jimmy Yawakia


Jimmy was our July 2021 featured Spotlight Artist and provided the following artist biography written in his own words:

Zuni Traditional and Contemporary Fetish Carvings


As a self-taught carver, born and raised north side of the Zuni Reservation, located [on the western border] of New Mexico.  My traditional clans by maternal born into the Frog clan and paternal child to the Turkey clan. Being initiated into the small Kiva group and name given by initiation is Me’la (translation: Corn). Fifty-seven years of age, retired after twenty three years as Emergency Medical Technician in Gallup, New Mexico, former livestock owner and raised churro sheep at Nutria in Burned timber area. 

How I Started:

After a long hard shift, helping the injured and attending the ill. The memories from serious accidents still remained within my mind, racing without a finish line, unable to sleep. 

While in my work room, a stone will be selected by color, texture and shape. The Creation starts by holding and turning the stone within the warm hands, until the animal is seen. It could become a single traditional animal or multiple animals on one stone.

My first memory of my first material that was introduced to me was a hard rock.  Craving with antler to shape was another interest but when it was being smoothed out by sanding it had a an awful odor, [with this material] a Ko’lo’wese (Zuni guardian of aquifers) was made shaped into a Serpent.  I also learned how to work with cottonwood making Shalako’s.  I started to invest in tools and equipment to work with stones. Every stone has its own energy and that is how collectors get drawn in with the stone and the carvings.

Now, it is very enjoying having a booth at art shows and traveling meeting collector’s young and old, that are becoming great friends and now growing my art and demonstrating my work.

Establishing cliental was hard in the beginning dealing with local traders and selling items jobber price instead of retailing. I decided to cut out the middleman and sale my own pieces directly to store owners and businesses. You can find my work at KESHI, the Maxwell Museum, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, as well as Garlands and the Kachina House in Sedona, Arizona.

During my carving years, I have traveled to Los Angeles, CA. and far east to Bar Harbor, Maine. Becoming an award winner from various art shows has opened doors to galleries, studios, museums and into homes throughout the world. So whenever you and your family come to Zuni. Come visit the Yawakia Family and enjoy Zuni with me.


You can connect with Jimmy's facebook page here


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