2017 NACF Mentor Artist Fellow Royce Manuel (Auk-Mierl Aw-Thum) is a renowned artist in southern Arizona who has spent years researching and documenting desert plant weavings and desert life-ways. Manuel is revitalizing an endangered art form – fiber weaving from harvested desert plants – which has not been practiced or taught for nearly eighty years.
During his year-long mentorship, Manuel taught apprentice Matthew Yatsayte (Zuni) the cultural and historical significance of making fiber art items by harvesting desert plants. His lessons included plant identification, harvesting methods, preparation processes, plus trips to museums for research.
Our focus was on agave fiber, but I learned so much more about the plants from this Arizona region and the information led me on an even wider exploration of my region in New Mexico and how my tribes used various types of plants.
― Royce Manuel
In addition to completing a joint art project, Manuel and Yatsayte also held events at the Heard Museum, Gila River Museum, and the Pueblo Grande Museum. Through these events Manuel was able to introduce his apprentice to a network with a strong interest in basketry and fiber art. Their commitment to completing the joint art projects Knotless Woven Gourd Bag, Hair Brush, 6” Bow String, and Woven Sandals is what sets them apart as Native artists. The discipline and commitment of their art connects them to their culture and ensures the livelihood of ancestral basketry techniques and practices.
Learn more about how the Mentor Fellowship works as Manuel passes on traditional arts practices and cultural knowledge to Yatsayte in the video below.
Watch the video below to learn more about Royce Manuel and apprentice Matthew Yatsayte’s mentorship year.
Royce Maneul (Auk-Mierl Aw-Thum)
2017 NACF Mentor Artist Fellow
“I was able to learn a lot more about culture and history, the use of different plants and their cultural significance…. It broadened my perspective of the history of this area.” ~ Matthew Yatsayte