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Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family

Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family

November 13, 2014 – January 11, 2016

Museum: American Indian Museum Heye Center

Location: East Gallery

Jewelry making has long been an important part of the lives of Southwest Native peoples. During the last 50 years, Native jewelers in the Southwest—Navajos in particular—have created a contemporary aesthetic that draws on traditional materials and reflects the persistence of cultural values such as beauty, centering, and balance.

Glittering World presents the story of Navajo jewelry through the lens of the gifted Yazzie family of Gallup, New Mexico—one of the most celebrated jewelry making families of our time. The silver, gold, and stone inlay work of Lee Yazzie and his younger brother, Raymond, has won every major award in the field. Their sister Mary Marie makes outstanding jewelry that combines fine bead- and stonework; silver beads are handmade by other sisters.

Glittering World—featuring almost 300 examples of contemporary jewelry made by several members of the Yazzie family—shows 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.

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Blessings bracelet, Raymond C. Yazzie, 2002–3. Height, 1½ in. Collection of Daniel Hidding. Photo by Gregory R. Lucier, WindSong Studio, LLC