Born on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming in the early 1970s, Kiowa sisters Keri Ataumbi and Teri Greeves grew to become innovators in their respective art practices of jewelry-making and beading. The two artists were introduced to traditional Native art at young ages by their mother, Jeri Ah-be-hill, and went on to study at prestigious national institutions and make names for themselves in the Santa Fe art scene and beyond.
At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17, Ataumbi and Greeves join moderator Ken Williams — artist and manager of the Case Trading Post at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian — for a panel discussion in the Dobkin Boardroom of the School for Advanced Research. The artists discuss the trajectories of their careers as well as the influence of their mother on their lives and work.
Ah-be-hill ran a trading post at Wind River and was a noted expert and international speaker on the subject of Native fashions. After relocating to Santa Fe in 1988, she became the curator of the Native clothing contest at the annual Indian Market. Ataumbi arrived in Santa Fe in 1990 after studying at the Rhode Island School of Design and attended the Institute of American Indian Arts. She uses traditional Kiowa imagery and materials in her work but translates it into contemporary aesthetics. She views her jewelry as sculpture on a small scale. “My jewelry falls into the category of wearable art as it has a conceptual narrative exploration at its core,” she said in a statement. In 2016, she won first place in the jewelry division at Indian Market and, in 2015, Ataumbi and Greeves were jointly designated as Living Treasures by the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture’s Native Treasures program.
Greeves pushes her work past the limits of traditional beadwork by beading everyday objects and incorporating abstract designs and pictorial imagery that express a contemporary Native perspective. She has been beading since she was eight years old. She won Best of Show at Indian Market in 1999, one of many awards she’s earned for her work. “I am compelled to do it,” she wrote in a statement about her art. “I have no choice in the matter. I must express myself and my experience as a 21st Century Kiowa and I do it, like all those unknown artists before me, through beadwork.”
The panel discussion is part of SAR’s Indian Arts Research Center’s annual speaker series. The event is free to the public but prior registration is encouraged. SAR is located at 660 Garcia St. Call 505-954-7205 or visit sarweb.org/iarc for more information.