Iva Honyestewa's Whirlwind (Bringer of Rain) pootsaya basket shown at the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market, 2017
Iva Lee Casuse
1964 (age 54–55)
|Nationality||Hopi Tribe, American|
Iva Honyestewa (née Casuse; also Iva Lee Honyestewa; born 1964) is a Hopi/Navajo artist, social activist, and cultural practitioner. A Native American, Honyestewa is best known for her woven baskets and figurative sculpture. Honyestewa's most important breakthrough was the development of the pootsaya basket, called "a rare innovation in Hopi basketry". She developed the pootsaya during her 2014 residency at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico, having been awarded the Eric and Barbara Dookin Artist Fellowship.
Iva Honyestewa was born in Gallup, New Mexico, to parents Richard Casuse (Navajo) and Shirley Casuse (née Mansfield; Sun Clan, Hopi). Honyestewa is Sun (Taawa) Clan from the village of Songoopavi, Second Mesa, Arizona, and her Hopi name is Honwynum (Female Bear Walking).
Honyestewa began in 1992 as a silversmith and jewelry maker and received advanced training from her father Richard Casuse (Navajo), Leonard James Hawk (Yakama), Roy Talahaftewa (Hopi), and Charles Supplee (Hopi). She has worked with many techniques including Hopi overlay, lapidary, lost-wax casting, and tufa casting. She is included in the definitive guide to Native American jewelry makers by Gregory Schaaf of the Center for Indigenous Arts & Cultures.
Honyestewa is expert at customary Hopi basket making, both the coiled basket (poota) and the sifter basket (tutsaya). Her grandmother Esther Honanie taught Honyestewa to make her first coiled basket when she was ten years old. Honyestewa did not revisit basket weaving until 1996, when she began lessons with her first cousin, Beth Dawahongnewa. Over the next ten years, Honyestewa perfected her craft by making baskets for ceremonial purposes and began to introduce what would become her signature innovations. Her confidence grew, finally blossoming in 2006 as she began to enter art exhibitions and contests.
Honyestewa makes customary Hopi baskets using culturally-significant materials such as yucca, willow, and three-leaf sumac. Use of these local materials created a color palette of white, green, yellow, black, and red; however, she expands her palette with commercial dyes. She uses geometric, pictographic, and figurative designs, including the incorporation of three-dimensional elements such as a domed tortoise shell central to the basket design, serving pieces such as a ladle, sandals, and pedestals.
Honyestewa also has juxtaposed the ancient basket-making techniques with pop culture subject matter. For example, she created a Denver Broncos (her favorite football team) sifter basket. She also creates ambitious narrative works such as the project Where the Sun Fits In, an exploration of the migration story incorporating six Hopi clans (lizard, water, tobacco, badger, fire, and sun) and their symbols.
Honyestewa developed a combination of the sifter and the coiled basket, which she calls the pootsaya, during her 2014 residency at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She had considered this a project for years. Artistic imagery contains great meaning for Hopi people, so Honyestewa did not take this project lightly. To build on historical designs and create something new, she needed a transcendent purpose. For Honyestewa weaving is a spiritual and community activity and the pootsaya is a reflection of her deep affection for her community and culture.
Our communities, our lives have become so corrupted with alcohol, substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and even the politics. When creating this basket the purpose was woven into this unique basket. The coil portion is woven tight [... as] a tight foundation for the community. The yucca strands as they are tied onto the coil represent bringing our people back together so we can become one again and make a better community for our future children. Not only for the Hopi community but for all communities throughout the world. That is the purpose behind the pootsaya.
Honyestewa explored the use of historical Hopi symbolism and subject matter, for example, a spider and its web, or a whirlwind, by placing a specific image in the plaque-like center coil of the pootsaya surrounded by a sifter section that reflects and enhances the central subject.
Of Honyestewa's innovation, Andrew Higgins, registrar of the Arizona State Museum, wrote: "[Honyestewa] create[d] a truly unique piece of artwork. The whole process of gathering, preparing and weaving is very long tedious process. I have such tremendous respect for artists that go that extra mile to create something so remarkable." Diane Dittemore, Curator of the Arizona State Museum considered the pootsaya "a rare innovation in Hopi basketry".
Shows, collections, and awards
Honyestewa exhibits at many venues, including three major juried, competitive Native American art markets: the Prescott Indian Art Market, the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market, and the Santa Fe Indian Market.
Honyestewa has also won many awards, including 1st Place for Contemporary Basketry (for a pootsaya) and 2nd Place for Plaited Wicker Basketry at the 2018 Santa Fe Indian Market, the Wilma Kaemlein Memorial Acquisition Award at the Southwest Indian Art Fair in 2015; Best of Division, First, and Second Place awards at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art exhibition in 2015 and 2016; Best of Category Sifter Baskets, First Place, and Second Place awards Gallup Indian Intertribal Celebration in Gallup, New Mexico in August 2011; 1st, 2nd and Honorable Mention at the Hopi Tuhisma Show in Kykotsmovi, AZ 2011–2014; 1st Place Butterfly Basket and 1st Place Geometric Design Division, Gallup Indian Intertribal Celebration in Gallup, New Mexico, in 2007; Honorable Mention in Basketry at the 2007 Museum of Northern Arizona Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture.
Honyestewa was awarded the 2013 Artist-in-Residence award and fellowship at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, Indiana. She subsequently was awarded the 2014 Eric and Barbara Dookin Artist Residency Fellowship at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe.
Honyestewa is a subject of Sally Grotta's American Hands Project celebrating craftspeople through narrative portraiture and is on the cover of American Hands Journal volume 1. Honyestewa also frequently lectures on Hopi arts and weaving and provides demonstrations.
Social activism and community building
Honyestewa is a social activist, community builder, and preserver of Hopi culture. She has worked with community-building programs which include youth services and education, substance abuse prevention, and nutrition and health. Culturally, she is focused on providing support for the arts, Hopi language, and customary Hopi food. She is revising a Hopi cookbook for the Hopi Putavi Project in partnership with the Hopi Community Health Representative Office, the Hopi Special Diabetes Program, and the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Hopi Office. She wrote "Understanding Access to and Use of Traditional Foods by Hopi Women," a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition.
Honyestewa owns and operates Iskasokpu Gallery on Second Mesa, Arizona, which promotes Hopi artists. Iskasokpu translates to "the spring where the coyote burped." She also holds demonstrations and teaches Hopi cooking recipes (and has done so across many venues, including at the university level) and provides catering and private dinners.
The artist also has worked for the United States Department of Agriculture.
Honyestewa is married to stone and wood sculptor and katsina artist Edward Honyestewa, who is Hopi Coyote (Ishawuu) Clan from the village of Hotevilla, Arizona. She has four sons. Honyestewa attended Yavapai Community College and Northland Pioneer College. She is closely related to the very accomplished basket maker, Adeline Lomayestewa. Both women taught Reba Ann Lomayestewa basketry techniques.
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