Charles Loloma: Jewelry Artist
Charles Loloma was born on seventh January 1921 near the little village of Hotevilla on the Third Mesa of the Hopi Reservation. His parents were Rex and Rachael Loloma who raised him following traditional ways of life, and this made him grow to become one of the best AZ artists. He started his studies at the Hotevilla Day School and later attended Hopi High School.
He also studied at the Phoenix Indian School, where he graduated in the year 1940. While still schooling, he worked under a famous artist known as Fred Kabotie who selected him to assist in the production of the Awatovi murals for the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He also served in the army where immediately after his discharge in 1942 he married Ollie Passivity, and they settled in Shipaulovi. They opened a pottery shop in Scottsdale.
In 1955 Loloma began showing more interest towards jewelry which took over from pottery and this passion grew to make him one of the top AZ artists. While still operating the shop they had opened with his wive he still taught at the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Tucson.
He taught art related courses which clearly show that he was very interested in the arts. Even though the full-time teaching job was very demanding, he still found time to work on his jewelry where in 1963 he held a very successful show in Paris.
By the year 1966, he had already begun devoting more of his time to the arts, and he started construction of a gallery and studio. The studio and gallery have been expanded many times since then to accommodate the increasing work of art.
His jewelry became known internationally, and some of his work can be found in the collection of some famous people. In the year 1960 pieces of his work were commissioned by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who presented it to the wife of the president of the Philippines and Denmark's Queen.
In the sixties, he won first prize for seven years at the Scottsdale National Indian Art Exhibition. On the third month of 1970, Loloma was in the art panel for the first Convocation of American Indian Scholars which was held at Princeton University.
He has also been recognized during different arts awards both locally and nationally. He held his second Paris show in 1971 which was even more successful than the first one.
He was also the subject of a television film, which was known as 'Lola' which was narrated by Rod McKuen. Later he was the keynote speaker at the American Craftsmen Council convention. He was also elected for three years as the Arizona Commission on the art and humanities. He was also on the board of the American Indian Historical Society at the Princeton University.
Loloma continuously showed a deep feeling for his culture where he lived by the Hopi calendar. In fact, during the Paris show he had to fly home to attend a cultural event. He also observed different aspects of his culture including holidays and important days.
He did all this despite his high level of education and being regarded as one of the top AZ artists. He believed that despite the changes art had put in his life, it was important to respect one's heritage and culture.
This deep belief in his heritage influenced his jewelry work and can be evidently be seen in some of his top pieces. He passed away in 1992 where he left a great legacy in the world of jewelry and arts in general.