Jeweler Profile


Eric Othole


Metalsmith and Jewelry Design

Zuni/Cochit

 

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Born in Albuquerque, NM, Eric Othole is an innovative jeweler from the Zuni/Cochit tribes of New mexico. His mother is renown jeweler Jolene Eustace . Other prominent artists in his family include Christine Eustace (Aunt), the late master painter, Duane Dishta (Uncle), well known jeweler, the late Benjamin Eustace (Grandfather), as well as potter. Felicita Eustace (grandmother) .Starting out at the early age of 10 , Eric would constantly play with his family member's jewelry tools as well as help out in various tasks from setting stones to filing work. Once in awhile he would make pieces of his own to supplement his video game addiction. As he puts it “ I didn't want to be a jeweler. My dream as a kid was to create video games. So I studied Basic programming and made simple games for my friends and me to play”.

 

Moving back and forth from Santa Fe to Zuni gave Eric a view of both world's. On his dad's side of the family, He learned petite point from his aunties and was immersed in the traditional side of Zuni culture. While on his mother's side he was exposed to more contemporary art as well as his Cochiti heritage. Eric uses these as influences when making his work.

 

Before 1998, at the age of 20, Eric still hadn't considered taking jewelry seriously. His plan was to take take a break from school before returning back to college.. After 1998, was a different story. He was to become a father. Soon after, Eric started entering shows such as the Santa Fe Indian Market and Heard museum show in Phx, Arizona. Before this time, eric relied heavily on his mother's style to give him inspiration (Using reticulated silver and carved stones like his mother),.Eric started to slowly drift toward other influences such as those by Duane Maktima or Eric's Aunt, Christine Eustace. Soon he was Invited to a workshop called Pueblo V design by none other than Duane Maktima himself. It was here that Eric saw the possibilities of Jewelry making. Particularly the technique of mokume gane. Unfortunately, Eric couldn't stay in Pueblo V long. With the birth of his daughter he couldn't pay for the fee's or materials required of the classes. Instead of giving up, Eric set out to learn the techniques he had seen on his own.

 

Researching and talking to various people, Eric was able to figure out the basic's of How to make Mokume Gane. At this time he also saw a small lesson in a jewelry book he had been reading about metal inlay/married metals. The one paragraph passage sparked an idea in Eric to combine the use of Mokume Gane and inlaying metal to create scenes of flowers, dragonflies, and butterflies. “It was a lot of work to sort all this stuff out. I had the idea in my head about what I wanted, but actually figuring out how to do it is a different story.” Eric researched extensively about Mokume Gane as well as different patinas he could use to color the copper in his work. It seemed with each new lesson, he would open a door to another world of techniques.Learning new ways of making jewelery is something Eric still does to this day.

 

In 2001 Eric was the first recipient of the Connie & Malcom Ggoodman Fellowship (Wheelwright museum). This enabled him to buy all the equipment he needed to broaden his career. (Other notable recipents include Darryl Dean Begay, Rebecca Begay, Melissa Cody, Silvester Hustito, and Colin Coonsis). Eric became a father once again in 2002. This time a son, and that drove his ambition even more.

 

Still researching new techniques such as granulation, Cloisonne, stone inlay and repousse, he is currently teaching his kids what he has learned over the years and hopes they keep the memory of the people he learned it from alive.“ A lot of the people I learned from are gone..such as my Aunt rose, my grandfather, Ben and my uncle Duane. I tell my kids stories about them and what they taught or told me as we work in the studio. They really love learning about jewelry and the family because a lot of those things i've never told anyone else before. I just want to keep the memory of things alive..so that the story keeps going. It's told through my work and now theirs. When i'm gone and if they're still doing it, I hope they keep those pieces of me and my family in their work. “

 

Artist Statement

 

"My Work is a homage to people who have taught me or inspired me over the years. Growing up in Zuni, NM as well as in Santa Fe, NM gave me a chance to see 2 different worlds in motion. Having Artists on both my mother and Father's side Greatly influenced me as well, In each piece I do, you can see an echo of people and places in time. From my mother,who taught me about texturing and not limiting myself design wise, to my aunts in Zuni, who taught me how to do Traditional Petite point and gave me my first experiences in working with jewelry. My work is also a reminder to myself about the beauty in life. The time from childhood through adulthood. Creating a piece for me is akin to rebuilding a feeling or memory from the ground up, then being able to feel and touch it with my own hands.

Many recurring themes prevail throughout my work. They night sky, nature, my hometown and the Sunfather are some of the main players. The sky and the blazing night sky are memories of my childhood. I used to sneak outside late at night and sit on the hood of my mother's car just to look at the stars and constellations they made. The sense of vastness and beauty of the night sky became a part of who I am. Another influence is my hometown (Zuni NM), I had good memories of growing up and going to school there. From smelling the wood burning from outdoor ovens to playing in the river or watching the kachina dances. My own home has become a constant source of fascination. There is always something to see or learn in Zuni. As for the sunfather, that is a homage to my mother who uses this symbol a lot in her work. It's a way to connect my work to hers.


When working, i try to re-interpret these experiences in many different ways using various techniques. The use of Mokume Gane ( A Japanese metal laminate technique), as well as metal inlay (married metals) are just a few examples on the techniques I use. I try to combine these with traditional zuni techniques to bring out a voice that I feel is uniquely my own. Petite point is something I learn from my aunts (Rose Dishta and Maxine Malani). During my elementary school years I would stay up late with them as they worked in a small studio they had built. Not to learn about jewelry, but because I was scared to be alone in the main house by myself. Since I was bored they would have me help out with small tasks such as setting stones or dopping turquoise stones on to wooden sticks. So now when I use this technique in my work it is a homage to both of them and the good times we had. My aunt Rose passed away many years ago, but Maxine is still working on her pieces. Sharing these stories about people and places is my way of showing you what is at the heart of my jewelry and the reason I do what I do. I just want to show the beauty of where I come from and simply make my family proud.
" - Eric Othole

 









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