Friday, December 1, 2023

Diné designer hosts fashion experience during Santa Fe Indian Market to support up-and-coming artists

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The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts will be hosting its annual Santa Fe Indian Market this weekend where Indigenous artists from across North America come to sell their work, including jewelry, pottery, paintings, and more.

Amy Denet Deal, a Diné designer and founder of 4Kinship will be hosting a fashion experience highlighting Indigenous artists, designers, and more. She talks with KUNM about how 4Kinship is amplifying Indigenous voices on Canyon Road.

DENET DEAL: It started really just as a way for me to do things in a more thoughtful, conscious way. I was a young mom at that time but at that point I just made the decision that working in corporate fashion was really damaging the future of her generation. So I was like, I need to figure something out that makes more sense in an authentic way for my own child. So that’s when we started the brand.

We kind of did that together as a mommy daughter just kind of starting off in small batch handcrafted pieces. And it’s grown to where it is today, which is a full blown Artists Collective, really looking at reimagination, restoration, re-colorization of things from the past.

KUNM: And where originally were you from?

DENET DEAL: I was adopted out as a child of part of our displaced children from the 60s, I grew up in a really loving home in the Midwest with adopted parents, and finally made my way back in 2019, right before COVID hit. So it’s been a long pathway for me to make my way back home. But certainly, now that I’m here, it definitely feels like this is really where I’m going to be for the rest of my time on Earth. And certainly, it’s a comfort to be with a community, being based out of Santa Fe, and being based out in New Mexico has given me such a closeness to not only my tribe, which is the Diné tribe, but all the tribes of the Southwest and all the people here. So it’s just been just a huge healing journey for me to finally kind of be part of this and to be of service.

KUNM: What is 4Kinship all about? What does it stand for?

DENET DEAL: I have had a long career in fashion, I’ve been in fashion nearly 40 years. But to actually build a brand platform that works to amplify community projects, we work on community needs, in addition to housing a bunch of Native folks here that have a place they can sell that’s, you know, not on the ground at the Plaza. I feel like by offering space here in the shop for up and coming artists, that’s really what you would call being a good auntie or being a good relative is. I want the next generation to thrive, I want them to have the opportunity to create the wealth they need to have a shop down the street next to me, that only comes with that type of mentorship and partnerships with young Native artists. I’m on their side.

KUNM: Do you feel it’s important for Natives to have more representation in Santa Fe not just this weekend but all year round?

DENET DEAL: So I think that’s a big reason we painted on the top of the building ‘we belong here.’ It’s not that we’re still here, which we say a lot as Native people that we’re still here. We need to be visible. For me being in this town is that we’ve always been here, we belong here. It’s just as important for Native people to have commerce or to be a store here in Santa Fe as all the other businesses here, we just need to have a broader representation within this town because it is a thriving town of tourism for Native arts and culture.

KUNM: What kinds of artists will be a part of your event?

DENET DEAL: We’re going to have all different artists within the store. So that’s Sheridan MacKnight, Sean Shine Harrison who’s one of our skate mentors, Peyton Alex, again, one of our young ones that mentors kids out in Escape Garden Project, Di’Orr Greenwood, Leah Rose has her photography here. We have a really beautiful piece coming in from Steven Paul Judd that he did for really helping us raise funding for some of our community work. So that was just such a thoughtful gift from a world renowned artist.

My highlight is Josh Tafoya who we’ve represented for over a year, who comes from mixed heritage up in the Taos area. But he was indicted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America this year as an interim member. So he’s got his third collection that we’re launching which I think he’s like stayed up all night for like three weeks and he’s got like 13 or 14 pieces that he’s bringing that are all hand woven, one of a kind of bespoke pieces, that we’re all just kind of drooling, waiting for that to show up because his work is just so expansive over different platforms of weaving, pattern making, sewing and its color sense. It’s just out of this world.

KUNM: You mentioned that 4Kinship does community projects, what type of projects is that?

DENET DEAL: We started a nonprofit fund called 4Kinship Indigenous Future Fund, where we’re raising funds currently to distribute to all the creative artists that are part of the event on Saturday. To help their careers, whether that’s in dance, in spoken word, as models, as graphic people like working in graphic arts, you know, so everybody gets an additional distribution from even being part of this event. And I think it’s so important, we let them know their worth, and that we support them in this way, because it’s just to know that we hold space for them as you know, their elders as their older community that we value them, and that we’re there for them.

KUNM: What do you hope comes out of this weekend with your event but also with your own retail store?

DENET DEAL: Honestly, I think that’s the beauty of having an old house up here on the street. I mean, it is a store. But when you walk in, everybody that is part of our Native community always walks in, and they’re like, oh, my gosh, it just, it feels like home, because they look around, and all they see are things made by Native people.

For the artists just for them just to be able to be amplified and elevated in the press and media, because sometimes we lose focus of these amazing people that are part of our events and organizations, right. So I want them to benefit from this and for the world to see how just spectacular they are. So that’s just for me as an auntie, that’s my hope is that, you know, we get to showcase some amazing creatives, and that we can all celebrate that as a community.

Santa Fe Indian Market will be in Santa Fe near and around the plaza and will open at 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 19, 2023 and will continue on through Sunday, August 20, 2023. You can find more information here.

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