IACA Journal summer 2013 - page 6

IACA Journal | Summer 2013
Diné Artist JT Willie Takes IACA
2013 Artist of the Year Honors
A truly talented young man from Navajo country has taken his place among the 32
renowned artists that include the prestigious IACA Artist of The Year honor in their
award portfolio.
JT Willie’s work breaks through the boundaries of art and into
the world of high fashion with his contemporary and stylish
array of beaded gowns, beaded shoes and beautifully beaded
Other winners in the 2013
competition include:
• Jewelry - Lapidary:
Jimmy Calabaza (Kewa)
“Dance Shell” 2-strand turquoise neck-
lace with sterling silver beads
• Jewelry - Metalsmithing:
George “Shukata” Willis (Choctaw)
Untitled. Sterling silver bracelet with
Choctaw Designs
• Pottery:
Pam Lujan-Hauer (Taos Pueblo)
“Aquiline Six Directions Vase” Taos
micaceous clay burnished directionally
to accentuate the shape
• Textiles:
Susan Hudson (Dine’)
“Honoring Ledger Quilt” Inside out
Ledger Quilt that honors Native
POW/MIA from the 4 Directions
• Traditional Crafts:
Mary Lou Big Day (Crow)
Untitled. Fully beaded Crow women’s
• Mixed Media:
JT Willie (Dine’)
“Indian Girls Go To Balls Too”
Beaded gown
• New Member Artist of the Year:
Veronica Poblano (Zuni)
“Corn Goddess” gold necklace
Willie is of the Taabaaha (Waters Edge
People) and born for the Tachiinii (Red
Running into the Water People). He
holds two masters degrees and is pursu-
ing his PhD in political science. Willie
also is the Marketing Director of the
Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise.
JT told the
IACA Journal
that he
frequently is asked about his focus on
beadwork, which is not at all common
to Navajo people, and is more akin to
the work of people from the Plains area.
He explains. “In college, I became best
friends with kids who were Kiowa/Co-
manche. They knew beadwork, and I
learned beadwork and loved doing it. I
just kept going and going and going with
it. In fact, my beadwork has paid for
most of my college expenses.”
A major inspiration to JT Willie is
2009 IACA Artist of the Year, Alfred
Joe. Though their art is quite different
(Alfred Joe is a renowned jeweler) the
exceptional beauty and quality of Joe’s
work set the standard of beauty and
quality that became JT’s yard stick.
To JT, one of the keys to success as
an artist is the willingness to accept
criticism, both positive and negative. JT
says, “Criticism of any kind is a good
thing. It means that your work is being
recognized, and making a point. My
advice to any artist is to just keep doing
what you do, and learn from criticism.”
JT Willie is staking his position in the
world of wearable art and fashion.
Expect to hear much more from this
talented artist in the years ahead. He is
just getting started.
“Indian Girls Go To Balls Too”
Beaded gown by JT Willie, IACA
2013 Artist of the Year and winner
of the Mixed Media Category
“Honoring Ledger Quilt” by Susan
Hudson (Dine’)
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