Like the rest of his well-known family of prize-winning jewelers, Michael uses time-tried materials, techniques, and symbols, but transmutes them into modern designs.
Starting from a realistic concept, he abstracts the imagery, turning tradition into contemporary, wearable art.
This fascinating pin has a serenely powerful presence befitting the subject, a Ye’i, or Navajo spirit, who carries prayers up to the heavens.
The rectangular eye, and the shape of the face, defines this as a Ye’i.
His feathered headdress is simplified to a graceful arch, suggestive of a rainbow, while on the right, wavy lines symbolize flowing waterways.
Water is the most precious resource in the high desert of Navajo country, so hoping for divine intervention in assuring it is common.
With raised lines and darkened, textured and polished areas, this pendant evokes the mystery and awe of the subject.
Notice the myriad, infinitesimal dots and faintly etched lines on the darkened background; like the far-off stars in the night skies above.
Ye’is dance most famously during the Nightway ceremonies., so this is another subtle touch by the artist.
The form is finely shaped, the repetition of shallow curves is harmonious, and the horizontal eye extends off the background, in striking counterpoint.
Flawless in execution, this pin has a sleek and refined, but archaic, look, retaining the essence of the subject in an abstract, contemporary design that is as compelling as an ancient mask.