Published on February 16, 2013 by Casey
Pat Pruitt, a mix of Laguna, Chirachaua Apache, and Anglo descent, is a jeweler who continues to push the limits on what is considered Native American art. Pruitt has quickly gained notoriety in the Native arts community for his use of cutting-edge materials, designs, and fabrication techniques. Pruitt’s jewelry is undeniably modern, but also mixes in elements of the traditional. This could be seen as a reflection of Pruitt’s own life; a young, modern man living within the traditional Laguna Pueblo Reservation in New Mexico.
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Pruitt began making jewelry 20 years ago. From his mentors in the Laguna Pueblo he learned traditional methods of Native jewelry-making; using repousse and stamp work to decorate silver and copper. However, when Pruitt began college at the Southern Methodist University he didn’t study art. Instead he became interested in mechanical engineering and eventually ended up interning with a machinist at Texas Instruments, George Sabolski. Sabolski taught Pruitt how to use a variety of mechanical devices to design and fabricate items from industrial materials such as Stainless Steel. Pruitt took these skills and opened a body piercing fabrication business, Custom Steel. Custom Steel was a great success for Pruitt but he still desired to make art and jewelry as he did when he was younger.
Pat now combines his knowledge of modern materials and machine-aided fabrication with his love for traditional Native American jewelry. His pieces are stunningly original and have received no lack of attention. He has received numerous first and second-place prizes for his work submitted to the Heard and Santa Fe Indian Markets. By combining traditional native and contemporary designs into his pieces, Pat Pruitt proves that Native American jewelry is still an evolving art.
“My work is the creation of aesthetically pleasing objects of adornment for the discerning individual with non-traditional materials and fabrication technique utilizing evolving technology, equipment, and software. My designs reflect an influence of a modern traditional lifestyle, both on and off the reservation.” —Pat Pruitt