Friday, August 8, 2008

Finding Inspiration in the People

We talk about what inspires our designers a lot, but it often happens in very abstract terms: “the nature and culture of the Southwest.” While we wake up to the clear blue skies and watch the Sandia Mountains turn pink with the setting sun, a statement like “Southwest inspired” doesn’t say everything about where we get inspiration. It doesn’t tell you about the people.

Relios Jewelry is a member of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA), and each year SWAIA sponsors the grandest of all Native American arts shows: Santa Fe Indian Market. This event brings together artists from nearly 100 Native American tribes. Can you imagine the wonders and inspiration we find for pieces like our inlay jewelry in the artwork of the almost 1,200 Native artists that showcase at the Santa Fe Indian Market?

We can’t say that our jewelry is Native American, because the truth is that it’s not. We believe in the power of diversity, and we hire the most skilled workers regardless of ethnicity. We feel that we’ve been lucky to put together a staff from all walks of life: Hispanics, Asians, and most certainly Native Americans. The culture of the Southwest, after all, is an amalgam of Native, Mexican, and European influences. We think the Relios family should be too.

So while we can’t say the jewelry is Native American, we can say that we take the beauty and creativity that we find in Native American jewelry, pottery, sculpture and textiles and create jewelry that offers you our interpretation of their amazing art. Collections like our Santa Fe Sunset collection, for example, take elements that our lead designer, Carolyn Pollack, found in pieces of Indian pottery. (Check out the video of Director of New Jewelry Design, Susan Chiasson, talking about the Santa Fe Sunset Collection on our Facebook profile). As Carolyn says, "At Indian Market, you get this feeling that the pieces have somehow emerged and evolved from the earth. It is truly a magical feeling like no other.”

Relios does much more with the Santa Fe Indian Market than just browse for ideas. We believe in giving back to those who gave to us. It’s why we use recycled silver for all of jewelry (including turquoise earrings and turquoise rings) and it’s the reason why Relios has sponsored one of the awards at Indian Market for the last 10 years – and we will be again this year.

Not only does Relios bring back ideas from the Indian Market, we bring back friends. Our partnership with Native American designer, Roderick Tenorio, was a fortuitous reward for being involved in such a spectacular event. Relios collectors have been adding Roderick’s jewelry to their collections ever since. And we continue to seek out Native American artists to partner with. The jewelry you find at the Indian Market tends to be one-of-a-kind art pieces. This means they can be really pricey as well. In our opinion, we think everyone who wants to share in the art should get the chance. We partner our manufacturing capabilities with the design skills of artists like Roderick (and hopefully soon a couple others) in order to give everyone a chance to experience Native American-designed jewelry at more affordable prices.

If you’re interested in visiting, this year the Indian Market is taking place on August 23rd and 24th on the Plaza in Santa Fe, NM. You never know whom you’re going to meet – Bill and Carolyn, perhaps – and you never know what you’re going find. What you do know is that the artwork, jewelry, and pottery are going to sparking new ideas for sterling silver jewelry here at Relios.

Visit the Relios Jewelry website to see the kinds of turquoise jewelry the art at the Indian Market and the Southwest culture and spirit has already inspired. Don’t forget to bookmark the site, because we can assure you that we’re bound to be incorporating ideas from this year’s show in future pieces.

We’ll see you at the Santa Fe Indian Market!

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