My name is Ryon Polequaptewa. I am from the village of Shungopavi, born to the Sun clan of the Hopi people. As of 2011, I have been carving Katsina dolls for 10 years. I was invited by the Heard Museum (in November 2009) to be a consultant for an exhibit called 100 Years of Carving. It was then and there that I encountered the Wilson Tawaquaptewa Katsina dolls. With a unique style and contrasting new evolution of Katsinam, Wilson Tawaquaptewa’s dolls resemble actual Katsinam but have been distorted or modified. Other dolls which bear little or no resemblance to any actual Katsina, are the product of Tawaquaptewa’s idiosyncratic imagination. These two groups are referred to as the “mixed up” versus “made-up” types.
As Kikmongwi, Village Chief, Tawaquaptewa had a special relationship to all Katsinam. With his knowledge and responsibilities for the Katsinam, any carved representation of them in any way that was commercially exploitative would be improper and disrespectful. Therefore, Tawaquaptewa deliberately distorted all his carvings in order to be consistent with his religious convictions and role as Kikmongwi. Tawaquaptewa was born to the Bear Clan of Old Oraibi Village.
After encountering Tawaquaptewa’s Katsinam, I began carving in this style. Appreciating the history, perhaps bringing back an art that may have been lost, as well as creating my own style and characters. As Tawaquaptewa may have created from dreams or imagination, from this very same perspective I carve my dolls into stories inspired through humor, fantasy, and from childhood memories. With the knowledge I have gained from my experience and years of carving as a Hopi artist, each of my creations holds its own unique character, emphasizing different levels of energy and concept. At last a live art form.