Hailing from Crystal, New Mexico's Navajo Reservation on the Chuska Mountains, Michael Roanhorse (Diné) was born into the Tábaahí Clan (By the Water) and the Kinyaa'aanii Clan (Towering House). He is rapidly emerging to the forefront of the Native Arts scene. The contemporary artist continues to earn significant recognition among his contemporaries garnering accolades at the nation's top venues: including the Santa Fe Indian Market, Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market, the Smithsonian National Museum for the American Indian, and the Eiteljorg Museum.
Each work forged by Roanhorse's skilled hands remains distinctive -- a three-dimensional realization of his original abstract vision. Collectors describe his jewelry as wearable sculpture -- literal works of fine art.
Roanhorse continues to draw from his cultural heritage to inspire new creative themes, while striving beyond the boundaries of traditional Native jewelry design and function.
Roanhorse gives back to his people through his support of the Susan G Komen foundation. In his words... "I joined the fight for the cure to help raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. I learned a great deal about the effects of breast cancer from my aunt on my mother’s side, who is a breast cancer survivor. In addition, another aunt passed on as a result of cancer."
Michael joined the Susan G Komen Foundation in 2008 and donated his first silver table top sculpture during the Santa Fe Indian Market for a fundraising auction. His commitment is to work with the Foundation every year to help raise money. In 2009, he donated his first gold piece.Future plans include the donation of his first canvas painting and first bronze sculpture. He hopes to inspire other artist and raise even more for the cure.
The money that is raised from “Roanhorse for the Cure” will benefit the Susan G Komen New Mexico Chapter to translate breast cancer information from English to Navajo and bring awareness to the Navajo Nation clinics and community at large. His goal is to see all the surrounding tribes and Pueblos translate breast cancer information from English into their native languages.
Roanhorse feels strongly about giving back... "As an artist, I think it is important to give back to your community, whether it is helping a local art school, judging an elementary art fair or raising money for a charitable cause. I do not feel like I should wait until I am older to start giving back. I feel very blessed to have been given a talent and the opportunity to be a full-time artist and create art for a living. I am humble to wake up every morning and be able to love my job and to create beautiful pieces."
I learned the basics of silver and metalsmithing from my father. I researched the fundamentals, including various techniques of silversmithing, while furthering my knowledge and experience. My goal is to push the envelope of contemporary art in silver, metal, and sculpture. I also want to keep evolving my style to help create a new and modern field in contemporary art.
The oral history of my people, handed down to my generation, fuels my artistic pursuits. The old stories give me ideas for each piece I create. The process I use to forge my works is three-fold: first, I envision the piece as an abstract painting, and then I see the piece as a three-dimensional sculpture. Lastly, I combine everything, creating a three dimensional abstract sculpture that is wearable art.
I believe in learning about our own history and background, and that process will help teach our younger generations who and where they come from so that we as Diné will not lose our heritage.