Hopi Demonstrations Reflect the Power of Tradition

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If you visited the Folk Arts Courtyard this year during Tucson Meet Yourself, you were greeted at the northeast entrance by a tradition-bearing Hopi family — including a master carver, a yucca basket maker and a quilting elder. Earl Dino Patterson Jr. (Sunaweuma) from Hotevilla (Third Mesa), has demonstrated Hopi carving at Tucson Meet Yourself four years, with his mother (Mary Ann Tenakhongva, Hotevilla) and sister (Sharon Tenakhongva, Hotevilla) joining him in folk arts demonstrations this year.

Dino Patterson at his Hopi Demonstration table
Dino Patterson at his Hopi demonstration table
in the Folk Arts Courtyard.

An initiated Hopi carver of various styles of Katsina spirit messengers, from traditional to contemporary, Dino uses the cottonwood roots, which he locates along washes usually after the monsoon season, for his folk arts. He is most at home when he discovers 90-degree angles in the roots, which allow him to shape the face and then work with the grain to create contemporary effects, like wind-swept hair.

Colors, important in the basket weaving and quilting as well as carving, were a subject of discussion among visitors to Dino and his family’s Tucson Meet Yourself demonstration tables this year. Dino’s use of black and white in carvings promoted a discussion about how contrasting forces, like yin and yang, actually relate to a unified whole. “The discussion kind of came around to knowing we’re all one… that we’re all necessary to the Universe,” Dino notes.

While katsina meanings are unchanged through centuries of Hopi tradition, Dino enjoys transforming his sculptures, often using power tools like a Dremel rotary tool to create contemporary intricacies and lifelike movement in the figures. At Tucson Meet Yourself, Dino spent time carving a traditional Katsina doll carving, the Ogre Maiden katsina.

Dino was taught to carve Hopi Katsina dolls by his brother and brother-in-law, and became an initiated Hopi carver 20 years ago. Sharon learned her weaving tradition from her aunts 30 years ago, and enjoys crafting the traditional tiny baskets, which she demonstrated this year at Tucson Meet Yourself table.

As Dino and his family patiently responded to the questions about katsina meanings and weaving designs that came from the crowds, he expressed appreciation for Tucson Meet Yourself as a multi-cultural showcase in support of traditions and cultural practices: “I have met representatives of museums who have invited me to participate in their programs as a result of Tucson Meet Yourself.”


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