Inspiration and Influence: Roxanne Swentzell

When I was at ASU, my major was Fine Art Photography and my minor was American Indian Studies.  The AIS program (of which I think I was the only white student to fully pursue at the time) has you choose between civics/ government and arts/ culture, and I was in the arts/ culture camp.  Part of why I moved to Arizona was a love of southwestern Indigenous art and culture, and elements of that influence occasionally creep into my work- specifically in the ceramics.

Roxanne Swentzell

A particular artist who is giving me a lot of ideas is Roxanne Swentzell of Santa Clara pueblo.  Roxanne is widely known for her clean and emotional sculptural work, from iconic faces to something that is very mundane like a character picking at their toes.  I think of when my children were younger and absolutely fascinated by the movements of their bodies.

I love the childlike humor of the work, and the craft is stunning.  But a recent exhibit of a few of her pieces at Phoenix’s Heard Museum really inspired me because… she had created casts of some masks and used them to make candy.  Chocolate masks, which she sold for 4 years.  Which is a completely ingenious idea.  People are so ready to part with their money if it’s for something that appeals to their addiction, and Americans in particular like stuff they can eat that isn’t healthy for them.  Art should have a bit of novelty factor if it’s to be saleable.

Roxanne Swentzell

“I believe that when we reach each other with our emotions, we feel less alone and more understood…thus loved.” – Roxanne Swentzell


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I'm a multimedia artist in Phoenix, AZ. Main Site - Instagram @primordialcreative + twitter @dbmillerphoto

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