Often referred to as the Michelangelo of Hopi carvers, Gerry Quotskuyva (Hopi Bear Strap Clan with Yaqui and Hispanic heritage) says “it’s typecasting to hand a Hopi a knife and some wood and expect he’ll carve a doll” — but that’s part of his background.
Before becoming an artist, Arizona-based Quotskuyva put his knife skills to work as a chef, preparing food for celebrities and on movie locations, including a “grueling but gratifying” gig on Clint Eastwood’s Heartbreak Ridge. Those skills also came in handy when he worked as an ice carver. All that honing of his handiness with a blade led him to discover his path to becoming a carver. For more than 26 years, he has followed that path and continues to explore other expressions of his creativity. Quotskuyva began carving his own katsina dolls in 1994. He starts by using a block of cottonwood root since it is easy to work with and because the roots grow deep into the moist ground, signifying their connection to water. His early sculpture work focused on artistic freedom and expression through blending the traditional styles with modern spiritual representations. “I try to bring the old together with the new to show the continuing circle of life.” Consequently, Quotskuyva’s works express a modern artistic approach rather than that of the more traditional styles. “Each piece creates and moves the spirit of the wood, the spirit of the carver, the spirit of the katsinam, and the spirit of the people who buy them. It is a full circle. Many contribute, many receive.”
Gerry’s remarkable style has been nationally recognized on a public television series titled “Living in Balance on Shatki-Hill” which featured entertainers, healers and artists in the Sedona area. His work has also been featured in the books “Art of the Hopi” by Jerry and Lois Jacka, “Katsina” edited by Zena Pearlstone, and “Ancestral Echoes” a 10 year retrospective published in conjunction with his solo exhibit also titled “Ancestral Echoes”. Some of his pieces have been selected to adorn art show posters including the Hopi Tu-Tsootsvolla show in Sedona and the West Valley Invitational Native American Arts Festival in Litchfield Park.