Kuwanvenga's Arts Corner: Spotlight on Bob Lomadafkie
Master Hopi silversmith discusses the relationship between life, the creative process and inspiration
FLAGSTAFF -- From small beginnings as a young child playing outside with his cousin at the Hopi Guild, or as master silversmith Bob Lomadafkie fondly describes it, the "quonset hut," when it was located in Kiqštsmovi, silversmithing was in his life long before he took it up as an adult.
"Art was happening all around me, I guess since I was so young I just didn't really pay attention to what the adults were doing, I was too busy playing outside and hanging out with my cousin Michael (Kabotie). I remember the men would be in the studio, and the noise from the two plumbers' torches that they used for the jewelry sounded like jet engines," recollects Lomadafkie.
Lomadafkie's work with silver is intricate and the artist's attention to detail makes his pieces in high demand. His combinations of symbolism truly reflect his Hopi upbringing and bring the elements of Hopi stories about animals, plants and the spiritual world to life.
Inspiration from his father, renowned artist, Robert Lomadafkie, his Uncle Fred Kabotie and various other artists from the Song˜opavi area helped to develop the budding artist into the master that he has become. Lomadafkie's father was a gifted pencil sketch artist and master artist in is own right.
"I remember I used to watch him create, and I was amazed at his speed and ability to make beautiful sketches within a matter of a few minutes sometimes. My dad used to make jewelry. Even to this day, I still use the tools that he handed down to me when I make my pieces. He really inspires me, even though he and my mother have passed on, I still think of what he taught me," recalls Lomadafkie.
He is not just trained in the fine arts. Lomadafkie is also a musician, an outlet that he feels is just another form of creative expression. While Lomadafkie was in his senior year attending Flagstaff High School, he was named Outstanding Marcher for his participation in the school's band playing the clarinet. He was also an active member in the school's choir.
After he graduated from Flag High, he attended Northern Arizona University, where he went into the fine arts college and learned the technical side of jewelry making. Designing became a big focus to Lomadafkie's field of expertise and still remains his passion today.
"Designing is my favorite part of being an artist. I make jewelry, but I have far more sketches on paper that I haven't even gotten to making yet. I like it because it is so transportable, wherever the creativity strikes you, all you need is some paper and a pen or pencil," quips Lomadafkie.
He listed the benefits of being involved in creative pusuits.
"Being around so many artists in my life, I personally feel that we live longer. Maybe it is the fact that we have that ability to create so we are closer to things that allow us to create, like nature, spirituality and family. Something about that combination, in my opinion, helps us stay strong and close to the things that really matter. Creating and the creative process, no matter what you are making, your mindset is tied in with your soul and your heart. These things work together to help you make whatever it is that you happen to be creating," Lomadafkie said.
He described the artistic process and its many phases.
"The process to become an artist doesn't happen overnight, it is a long process, not to mention the phases that an artist goes through in their lives," Lomadafkie said. "When you are young, there are so many distractions, you want to get recognized, once you get recognized then that "ooo-ahh" factor kicks in, and you realize that your art is being valued by a larger audience. Then the ego kicks in, and it gets inflated. Then reality sets in and after getting knocked down to reality, you see that all you are is another life passing through this earth."
He talked about the artist making a conscious effort to intermingle his life with the creative process.
"How you get better at what you are doing is that you do your work with the consciousness of making your life from your art," Lomadafkie said. "Produce the best that you can do, take pride in what you do because every piece that you put out there is a little piece of who you are. At the end of the day you should be able to go to bed knowing that you spent that time creating."
Lomadafkie is the current Traditional Knowledge Scholar at NAU's Applied Indigenous Studies department. He can be reached at his studio at 928-527-8402 during daytime hours. His work can be purchased through the artist himself, or at the Museum of Northern Arizona. For more information, Lomadafkie can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.