Published on June 6, 2013 by Amy
Daniel Chattin and his wife Jovanna Poblano are talented artists from the Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico. They are each individual artists in their own right, making carvings of maidens, soaring birds and other animals, and creating unique beaded jewelry, and also collaborating on necklaces featuring serene corn maidens and unique beads. Daniel is a prominent carver, producing both the maidens that are used in their necklaces and table fetishes, while Jovanna is the designer and bead worker who puts together their fetish necklaces, makes bead and stone jewelry of her own and also carves fetishes.
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Working together since 1995, Jovanna’s unsurpassed flair for color and fashion seamlessly complements Daniel’s skill at extracting the essence of the maidens and animals that he perceives in the materials he carves. They both love to experiment with new materials, ensuring that their collaborations produce necklaces in a class of their own, combining maidens carved from turquoise, shell, or gemstones, with beads of any size or shape in a wide range of colors and materials such as turquoise, coral, spiny oyster shell, sugilite, Swarovski crystals, lime chrysophrase or gold. Their necklaces are usually shorter than most fetish necklaces, with larger beads, and Daniel’s maidens are wider, resulting in a distinctive, stylish look that would not be out of place in a chic fashion boutique.
Jovanna comes from a long tradition of Zuni arts. Her grandfather, Leo Poblano, was famous for both his fetish carvings and his inlaid jewelry, and her mother, Veronica Poblano, carves fetishes in her father Leo’s style and is internationally recognized for her contemporary, sculptural jewelry. Jovanna’s brothers, Brad and Dylan Poblano, are also jewelers, Brad known for his colorful, tiny inlaid crayon pendants, and Dylan for his innovative, cutting edge creations.
A self-taught artist, Jovanna has always had a knack for combining colors. As a child, when her grandmother was creating beaded figures for sale, she would pour a mixture of beads into a dish and let Jovanna create necklaces. When she was fifteen, Jovanna found that she wanted to make beaded necklaces again, but in her own style. With the support of her mother, Jovanna began first to make chunky treasure necklaces. “My necklaces always had a different look to them. As I worked, I developed my own style, one that came from my heart,” Jovanna says. Her beaded necklaces have an antique or Victorian look to them, often highlighting one unique stone held in a setting of tiny crystal beads and surrounded by a fringe of beads in materials ranging from crystals and a variety of stones or shell to 22k gold.
Daniel Chattin began to carve in 1995, with the strong support of Jovanna and her family. “I am a self-taught carver,” he says. “One day I picked up a stone and saw a buffalo in it, then found another stone with a bear inside.” He quickly moved on to corn maidens, drawn by their importance to Zuni culture and their peacefulness. Soon he and Jovanna saw how his carvings could be incorporated into her necklaces, and their artistic collaboration was born.
A self-taught carver who has his own very distinctive style, Daniel is mostly known for his maidens and birds, although he also carves old style bears, coyotes, eagles and the buffalos. Daniel loves the challenge that comes with new materials, experimenting with glass, crystal, wood, silver, gem stones, or anything else that catches his eye. “When I see a stone, I see what it could be, how it should look,” he explains. “It always amazes me that even before I start carving I can see what it could be, and that it becomes a beautiful carving after all my work.” Daniel uses a dremel for carving stone or shell, or a diamond wheel for hard stones, but he prefers to do his sanding and finishing by hand.
In 2009, Jovanna began to carve fetishes inspired by those of her grandfather, Leo Poblano. She feels a strong connection with him when she carves, as if he is there helping her along in this new endeavor. She likes to carve nutria rock, a local stone that Leo often used, creating animals in his simple, traditional style. Jovanna is mostly self-taught but will also ask for advice from Daniel and her mother Veronica.
Art at the Zuni Pueblo is often a family enterprise, and this family is no exception. Both Jovanna and Daniel recognize the importance their mentor, her mother Veronica Poblano. “I am grateful to be part of this family, that encourages us to keep making art, even when times are hard,” Daniel says. Jovanna credits her family with making it possible for her to be an artist. “My family – my mother, my husband, my brothers, my grandparents and my ancestors – has always been there for me. I feel today that it is my mission to continue the work of my grandfather, who died so young.” Carrying on the family tradition, Daniel and Jovanna have encouraged their sons, Frankie and Leonardo, to start carving fetishes as well. Tradition for Jovanna and Daniel includes not only being an artist, but being one who takes their art to new, exciting levels, trying new techniques, using new materials and developing new art forms. Daniel and Jovanna’s innovative work is an example of another generation of artistry to be proud of in this talented family.