Hundreds of pieces of intricately crafted jewelry will be on display as part of the the National Museum of the American Indian's new exhibit, "Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family."
The Yazzie family, brothers Lee and Raymond and sister Mary Marie, have been creating beautiful pieces—from bracelets to belt buckles—for decades in New Mexico. Lee and Raymond specialize in silve, gold and stone inlay work while Mary Marie focuses on fine bead- and stonework.
One of the most stunning pieces are Lee Yazzie's "corn" bracelets, bracelets that look like they could be plucked from the field. Yazzie told Joe Tanner after finishing his blue corn bracelet, "I suppose I don’t have to be ashamed for spending seven months of my life creating one piece of jewelry. I was thinking to myself, ‘It takes Mother Nature three months to grow one ear of corn.’ So I guess that makes me half as good as Mother Nature!" He was inspired by his brother's corn harvest, "One time after we got the corn from the field and shucked it, I saw all those colors. After observing them, I picked one up and looked at it and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if I could take this ear of corn, spin it around my wrist, and wear it?'"
There are hundreds of pieces of jewelry from several members of the Yazzie family, and the museum notes that they will show "how the family’s art flows from their Southwest environs and strong connection to their Navajo culture. With historic pieces from the museum’s collections, the exhibition places Navajo jewelry making within its historical context of art and commerce, illustrates its development as a form of cultural expression, and explores the meanings behind its symbolism."
And in case you realize that you must have some finely crafted jewelry, the museum will have a special "Glittering World Gallery Store" featuring Native and Navajo jewelry; there will also be a few trunk shows from dealers like Joe Tanner.
"Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family" opens today and runs through January 10, 2016. The National Museum of the American Indian is at One Bowling Green, inside the Custom House, and it's free.