Hollis Chitto – Artwork Jewellery Discussion board

That is the third article in a sequence targeted on artists whose work is adjoining to jewellery. For my functions, jewelry-adjacent artists use materials, methods, or themes associated to jewellery practices. The physique is current of their work, not essentially because the recipient of decoration, however within the significance of the bodily physique to their kind, subject, or narrative. The adjacency of those artists to jewellery gives recent views to these of us immersed within the subject.

Hollis Chitto, photograph courtesy of Hollis Chitto

 Hollis Chitto (Choctaw/Isleta and Laguna Pueblos) started his inventive exploration with quillwork. He shifted to beadwork early in his artistic improvement, interested in the colour and flexibility of beads. Primarily based in Santa Fe, NM, he was surrounded by gifted artists and artisans rising up. His grandmother was a beader and his father labored with clay. His household sponsored Jamie Okuma[1] (Luiseno/Shoshone-Bannock/Wailaki/Okinawanone), offering a fellowship to assist her early profession. Okuma’s work contains beaded stilettos, spiked backpacks, and bomber jackets, and now contains style design. It was an early affect for Chitto to grasp the potential of beading.

Instruments Hollis Chitto makes use of in beading, together with needles, thread, thimble, axe, and, after all, beads—as seen in his workspace, photograph: Hollis Chitto

When he was 5, he started attending the Southwestern Affiliation for Indian Arts (SWAIA) market together with his father. He began promoting beadwork at age 10. He had discovered methods by way of books and practiced till he obtained it proper. The SWAIA market was a great place to attach with different beaders. He met Ken Williams, Jr.,[2] (Northern Arapaho/Cattaraugus Seneca) there. Williams turned a significant affect on his work. The buildup of information, relationships, and connections aided Chitto’s improvement of his private fashion. His ideas and designs veer exterior of conventional motifs of beaded jewellery. (Although he does that, too!) For instance, he brings HIV/AIDS and queerness immediately into his work.

Hollis Chitto in 2019 together with his award-winning beaded doll, Adeline, created from vintage micro beads, buckskin, sterling silver beads and drops, garnet beads, and wampum beads, photograph courtesy of Hollis Chitto

European merchants and colonizers launched glass beads to the already established cultural traditions of the various Native folks residing in North America as early because the 1600s. They have been integrated into some Native tribes’ distinctive artistic lexicons. Beads proceed for use as each a conventional and modern materials as we speak. Like craftspeople the world over, Choctaw and different Native tribes merge centuries of information and methods with totally different Indigenous, European, and Asian supplies to create distinct beaded objects.

Hollis Chitto, Bloodwork Quantity 2 (element), 2017, bag, vintage and modern seed beads, Swarovski crystal, Chinese language crystal, lapis, Czech glass, silk dupioni, silk habotai, 406 x 178 mm, photograph courtesy Hecho en Mano

The fashion of beading Chitto makes use of in his work follows the define of a drawing. This methodology is known as contour beading. Filling the area from the skin in creates a halo or ripple impact because the define of the picture radiates into the background. Chitto chooses vibrant, saturated colours. He combines conventional Pueblo pottery motifs and Artwork Nouveau sensibilities in his designs. The artist thinks of beading extra like coloring and fewer like stitching, however needles and thread are concerned within the course of. He makes use of each single sew and two-needle applique to make his work, often incorporating different methods like wire wrapping and pearl knots for particulars.

Hollis Chitto, element of beading in course of for Resplendent Quetzal, photograph: artist

Apart from a couple of items impressed by hen pictures, Chitto’s work options daring, geometric flowers. Floral patterns in Native work hint again to French-Canadian merchants and nuns. They shared floral motifs, and Native beaders expanded on the designs. These floral designs developed over generations. Particular person fashion and decisions are mirrored in delicate choices in regards to the shade, measurement, materials, and form of the beads most well-liked by every tribe after which by every beader.

“I all the time inform folks I do summary flowers as a result of I can’t draw.”[3]


Chitto takes many notes throughout his artistic course of. Descriptive written reminders preserve concepts, goals, colours, supplies, and different factors of inspiration from being misplaced. Each bit begins with a listing of those concepts to immediate his design course of. Chitto says he can’t draw. So he lays out the map of the illustration for every of his items, similar to a sketch underlies a portray. His discomfort together with his drawing abilities disappears through the beading course of. The beads create the graphic kind, hiding the drawn traces within the course of.

Chitto takes full benefit of the colourful vibrancy of beads. The number of finishes and sizes gives him loads of artistic potential. A lot of the beads Chitto makes use of are Czech glass seed beads. These are identified for his or her variability of kind. He finds Japanese beads too sq. for curved designs. The smallest beads are 24/0 and the biggest is 16/0. (For reference, a 15/0 seed bead is roughly 1.3 mm or 0.05 inch, so these are tiny. The sizing describes what number of beads match lined up alongside a linear inch when positioned gap up. It’s pronounced “fifteen ott,” just like jewellery noticed blades.)

A lighter exhibits the size of the beading work in Hollis Chitto’s Resplendent Quetzal, photograph: artist

The award-winning piece Resplendent Quetzal is the primary time Chitto featured life like imagery of a hen in his work. He drew inspiration from an exhibit on the Subject Museum, in Chicago. It featured a resplendent quetzal. This hen, native to Central America, has colourful, even flamboyant, plumage. Working from {a photograph} he took of the exhibit, Chitto created a number of drawings that guided the beading.

Hollis Chitto, Resplendent Quetzal, cornmeal bag, single stitched and two-needle applique with vintage micro beads, brain-tanned buckskin, sterling silver beads and drops, cotton cloth, vintage glass beads, garnet beads, wampum beads, photograph courtesy of the artist

Resplendent Quetzal is a conventional cornmeal bag. It contains sterling silver beads together with classic microbeads and wampum beads, that are beads made out of polished shells. Pueblo folks put on a cornmeal bag for each day prayers. Girls put on the small bag suspended from the neck, whereas males put on a distinct fashion with a flap. It’s just like a small bandolier bag, and worn on the hip.[4] This small bag holds cornmeal used throughout ritual prayer. It joins the lengthy custom of superbly crafted devotional and ceremonial objects made by expert artisans. These objects vary from prayer shawls and rugs to varied prayer beads just like the Catholic rosary and the Buddhist mala.

Hollis Chitto, Resplendent Quetzal (element), cornmeal bag, single stitched and two-needle applique with vintage micro beads, brain-tanned buckskin, sterling silver beads and drops, cotton cloth, vintage glass beads, garnet beads, wampum beads, photograph courtesy of the artist

It’s exhausting to think about now, however clothes, particularly males’s clothes, didn’t have pockets till the sixteenth century.[5] Girls nonetheless battle to search out useful pockets in clothes. The proof? The phrase, “Thanks, it has pockets”—the proper reply to a praise on an outfit. What have been the options earlier than pockets held the trivialities of on a regular basis life? Shoulder baggage, small baggage suspended from the neck on a wire, pouches worn across the waist, and the extra elaborate chatelaines. Luggage are utilitarian. They preserve helpful gadgets, ritual objects, and small necessaries like keys shut at hand. Purses are barely totally different than baggage. They’re elevated by their magnificence and class, and mix utility and ornament in a single trendy accent.

Hollis Chitto, Untitled (entrance), 2020, bag, vintage and modern seed beads measurement 18 ott–8 ott, sterling silver micro faceted chain, brass chain, silk dupioni, cotton print lining, Swarovski crystal, brass sequins, vintage purse body, 533 x 203 mm, photograph courtesy Hecho a Mano

Chitto’s work focuses on conventional Native baggage, just like the cornmeal bag and the bandolier bag. Nonetheless, the work of Sandra Okuma[6] (Shoshone-Bannock/Luiseno) impressed Chitto to combine Western-style, mechanical-looking purse frames into his items. He began this in 2012. The stress between usefulness and artistry excites Chitto, who makes certain that each bag he makes is usable. He traces them with silk and makes certain vital on a regular basis gadgets like cell telephones match securely within the purse. The vintage frames additionally make the purses extra wearable by offering a mechanical clasp for closure.

Historically, absolutely beaded baggage are worn to giant, particular group occasions like pow-wows and Stomp Dances, the place the objective is to stun and impress folks along with your style and artistry. They’re equal to the night baggage carried to galas in Western excessive society. Chitto’s bandolier bag Chata Anumpa in My Accent was worn by Secretary of the Inside Deb Haaland in a canopy shoot for InStyle journal in 2021. It’s an instance of the highly effective impact of a beaded bag worn by a Native girl in full regalia.

US Secretary of the Inside Deb Haaland for InStyle journal. Secretary Haaland wears an Emme Studio gown, Huckleberrywoman Designs earrings, 4 Winds Gallery Pittsburgh bracelets, Keri Ataumbi x Jamie Okuma ring, Hollis Chitto bag, and her personal ceremonial scarf, photograph: Camila Falquez/Thompson

For Chata Anumpa in My Accent, Chitto started with an thought, an artist assertion, in thoughts. General, the bandolier bag is conventional in its format. It has a single broad, flat strap meant to be worn over one shoulder and throughout the chest. Cords on the corners connect the strap to the flat pouch. Ornamental tassels cling from the underside of the bag and straps. A easy flap closure finishes the design. Nonetheless, Chitto actively thought-about which conventional parts to maintain and/or alter to create one thing uniquely his personal.

Hollis Chitto, Chata Anumpa in My Accent, 2020, bag, vintage and modern glass seed beads, sizes 15 ott–8 ott, wool cloth, silk dupioni lining, brass bells, silk tassels, Swarovski crystal, handmade glass beads, brass beads, brass sequins, 991 x 330 x 76 mm, photograph courtesy Hecho en Mano

For instance, Choctaw beaders don’t historically absolutely bead the flap closure. As an alternative, they apply wool cutouts and bead round them. Chitto wished to showcase extra beading, so he beaded the complete flap with summary geometric florals on an iridescent indigo subject. A few of these beaded parts are repeated on the shoulder strap. The designs he selected are uniquely his, not conventional Choctaw. For instance, Choctaw don’t historically bead flowers or use minimal colours. As Chitto stated throughout an interview, “Once you put on it, you’re gonna realize it’s not conventional, however it’s doing its greatest.”[7]

Hollis Chitto, Chata Anumpa in My Accent (element), 2020, bag, vintage and modern glass seed beads, sizes 15 ott–8 ott, wool cloth, silk dupioni lining, brass bells, silk tassels, Swarovski crystal, handmade glass beads, brass beads, brass sequins, 991 x 330 x 76 mm, photograph courtesy Hecho en Mano

The title and concepts behind this piece relate to Chitto’s private objective of studying Chata Anumpa, the Choctaw language.[8] His father grew up on the Choctaw reservation in Mississippi, the place 75% of the youngsters study to talk Choctaw fluently as their first language.[9] Nonetheless, Chitto didn’t develop up there. English is his first language. Whereas learning the e book Choctaw Grammar, he discovered Choctaw males say the “t” sound ahead within the mouth whereas Choctaw girls say the “t” sound farther again within the mouth. This binary language rule doesn’t maintain area for Chitto, who’s two-spirit and makes use of pronouns he/they. The place ought to the “t” sound sit in his mouth? This quandary made him consider the 2015 documentary Do I Sound Homosexual?[10] The movie explores how some homosexual males merge the tonal habits of each female and male talking traits.

Hollis Chitto, A Factor Shining, Colourful, Stunning, 2019, wall piece, classic microbeads, 24-karat plated beads, cork cloth, 140 x 89 mm, photograph courtesy of Hecho a Mano

Associated to binary traditions, as Maynard White Owl Lavadour (Cayuse/Nez Perce) states in his essay for the Heard Museum about beading, “amongst most beadworking tribes, it was historically the ladies who did a lot of the beadwork.”[11] As a younger boy, Chitto idealized the robust beading girls in his life. Typically, Choctaw males painted, whereas girls beaded. So that is one other space the place Chitto straddles binary expectations of gender roles. Chitto’s two-spirit id permits him to make work that merges portray and beading, blurring the divide between historically held feminine and male roles. In doing so, he creates work that’s neither and each.

Hollis Chitto, Bloodwork Quantity 2 (entrance), 2017, bag, vintage and modern seed beads, Swarovski crystal, Chinese language crystal, lapis, Czech glass, silk dupioni, silk habotai, 406 x 178 mm, photograph courtesy Hecho en Mano

By means of his work, Chitto desires to begin conversations about how HIV/AIDS continues to have an effect on reservation communities. Though HIV/AIDS prognosis is not a dying sentence, open dialog stays key to wholesome outcomes. From his artist assertion in regards to the BloodWork sequence, which features a bracelet and a bag:

“HIV an infection charges in native folks have constantly ranked third within the nation[…]. Underrepresentation and deceptive figures veil the truth that new HIV infections within the native inhabitants are steadily rising and have been for the previous 15 years. The shortage of frank and open communication primarily based round protected intercourse performs its position on this enhance. The taboos of talking overtly about unsafe intercourse and high-risk behaviors resembling intravenous drug use have solely served so as to add to new an infection charges resulting from ignorance.”[12]

The primary piece within the BloodWork sequence was a quilled bracelet. It referenced the heartbeat and the heartbeat, connecting the position of the bracelet to the life power flowing by way of the wrist. Bloodwork Quantity 2 additional displays on the significance of blood to life. It stems from Chitto’s concern for the gay males in his group. HIV/AIDS nonetheless holds a powerful taboo inside Native communities. This, Chitto factors out, is counterproductive in defending themselves and the group as a complete from a extremely transmissible virus.[13]

In Bloodwork 2, pink beads representing blood cascade over the floral design, disrupting the balanced concord of the piece. Nonetheless, Chitto selected totally different tones of pink beads. They don’t obscure the sample. In addition they make the blood appear translucent. This enables the underlying sample to point out by way of. By means of this painterly visible impact, Chitto conveys that the disruption of a constructive HIV prognosis isn’t an erasure however turns into a part of the entire individual.

Hollis Chitto, Bloodwork Quantity 2 (again), 2017, bag, vintage and modern seed beads, Swarovski crystal, Chinese language crystal, lapis, Czech glass, silk dupioni, silk habotai, 406 x 178 mm, photograph courtesy Hecho en Mano

The embroidery on the again of the bag contains morning stars, represented as plus indicators, on a darkish blue subject. These plus indicators do double obligation. They’re each morning stars and the image of a constructive prognosis of HIV. Morning stars are a standard design trope in lots of Native tribes. For Chitto, the universality of the morning star throughout Native cultures helps convey the significance of HIV/AIDS consciousness. Bloodwork Quantity 2 holds a particular place in Chitto’s evolution as an artist, permitting the messaging and ideas to drive his aesthetic decisions.

“All artwork is a type of launch ultimately, each for the artist and for the appreciator.”[14]


Tim Tate, One other Time, One other Dream, 2018, wall object, silver-plated heads, mirror, metal, LEDs, 91.4 x 10.2 x 91.4 cm, photograph courtesy Habitat Gallery

Creating work about HIV/AIDS has robust connections within the artwork world. Chitto’s work joins the work of many artists who created work reflecting on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. He takes inspiration immediately from the straightforward energy of Felix González-Torres’s Sweet Works.[15] Different examples embody glass artist Tim Tate, who additionally makes use of the highly effective image of the plus signal as an HIV/AIDS indicator in his solid and mirrored glass wall items.[16] There may be additionally jeweler Keith Lewis, whose iconic necklace 35 Useless Souls represents the family members he misplaced through the peak of the HIV/AIDS disaster.[17]

Keith Lewis, 35 Useless Souls, 1992–1993, pendants, assorted supplies, assorted sizes, photograph: artist

Exploring concepts about social points is new for Chitto. It’s thrilling to see the gifted artist’s daring beadwork communicate in regards to the related societal issues and private dilemmas he experiences. His baggage are greater than trendy equipment, although they’ve been featured for his or her fashion and artistry in Vogue, InStyle, and HuffPost. The exploration of his id, the issue of navigating gendered language, and the distinctive challenges of discussing points like HIV/AIDS in Native communities brings his work into different artwork world conversations. In these arenas, the idea supersedes the necessity to stylishly carry a cellphone—as useful as which may be—and brings consciousness to vital points by way of the fantastic thing about the item.

Bonus: You’re invited to take heed to a playlist created by Hollis Chitto on YouTube. These are the songs he beads by.[18]

[1] To see Jamie Okuma’s work: https://www.jokuma.com/gallery.

[2] To see Ken Williams, Jr.,’s work: https://www.instagram.com/kennwilliamsjr.

[3] Kathleen Roberts, “I Do Summary Flowers As a result of I Can’t Draw,” Albuquerque Journal, Aug. 16, 2020, https://www.abqjournal.com/1486505/i-do-abstract-flowers-because-i-cant-draw.html.

[4] From a dialog with the artist, October 18, 2021.

[5] Sigrid Ivo, Luggage: A Choice from the Museum of Luggage and Purses (The Pepin Press: Amsterdam, 2011).

[6] https://www.southwestart.com/articles-interviews/featured-artists/sandra_okuma.

[7] Interview with the artist, Could 24, 2021.

[8] To listen to Choctaw pronunciation and overview introductory grammar classes, go to the official Choctaw College web site: https://choctawschool.com/language-lessons/choctaw-alphabet.aspx.

[9] From a dialog with the artist, October 18, 2021.

[10] David Thorpe, Do I Sound Homosexual?, 2015, IFCFilms, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R21Fd8-Apf0.

[11] Maynard White Owl Lavadour, “Dazzling Beadwork,” in Be Dazzled Masterworks and Jewellery from the Heard Museum, ed. Gail Hen (Phoenix, AZ: Heard Museum, 2001). https://www.mutualart.com/Article/Dazzling-beadwork/0498A9776E9E8754.

[12] From Hollis Chitto’s artist assertion: https://www.hechoamano.org/artwork/bloodwork-number-2-by-hollis-chitto.

[13] Interview with the artist, Could 24, 2021.

[14] Staci Golar, “Creating throughout a Planetary Pandemic,” First American Artwork Journal, Apr. 3, 2020, https://firstamericanartmagazine.com/pandemic-hollis-chitto/.

[15] To see photos of Felix González-Torres’s sequence Sweet Works: https://www.felixgonzalez-torresfoundation.org/works/c/candy-works.

[16] To see photos of Tim Tate’s work: https://www.timtateglass.com/current-works.

[17] To see photos of Keith Lewis’s work: https://www.fb.com/keith.lewis.3760/media_set?set=a.1257339350131.2034388.1129030220&sort=3.

[18] To take heed to this playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60MHmrtEuRY&checklist=PLFM28zkQ_n_uBglZcmYjRcyCf9f528xmw&index=66.

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