SFIM Spotlight: Vincent Kaydahzinne, Into the Apache Past with Cochise and Chato
Vincent Kaydahzinne (www.kaydahzinnestudios.com) is one of the hundreds of Native artists whose work will be on display at the Santa Fe Indian Market this weekend (August 18-19). He will be at Booth 731 Lincoln Avenue.
Accomplished musician and award-winning sculptor Vincent Kaydahzinne of Artesia, New Mexico, exudes a confidence befitting his background: “I am the great-great-great grandson of Cochise,” he says in introducing himself.
“My grandmother, Helen, wife of warrior scout Chato, was among those held for over 25 years as a prisoner of war. I was fortunate and blessed to be a part of that history because when I was young and she was old, I lead her around and she taught me the Apache language, inspiring me with her knowledge, until she died at over 100 years old.
“I have Grandma Helen’s basket, my mother Pauline’s (a renowned basket weaver) basket, my sister’s and my nephew’s basket -- four generations in my family collection.”
His music and art are a blend of the traditional and the contemporary infused with culture, emotion, language, and history. His studio web page says his goal is to incorporate into his art and music an aspect of storytelling to convey a message and an emotion in a simplistic, yet moving, manner.
“I was only 8 years old when I picked up my first musical instrument, a discarded classical guitar, pretty well busted up with only 3 nylon strings. I tuned it as best I could and taught myself to play the guitar and later, the harmonica, before I became a composer and things started falling into place like a puzzle. Cochise and Chato were right there to help me become a musician.”
Kaydahzinne says he gravitated to sculpture because he felt that medium was one of the best ways to tell about his ancestors and his people including some of the more subtle aspects of growing up native --“The way we lived in cradles, how we banged on cowhides while older people sang Apache songs and danced around the fire when they held coming-of-age ceremonies. I grew up totally understanding my traditional culture and my work seeks to preserve this and provide a vessel and a bridge between my people and others.”
The sculptor prefers to work in alabaster which he describes as a sacred stone for the Apache people. “It’s spiritual for me because of the power it has. It speaks to me and gives me power. Like a feather is to all native peoples, that’s how alabaster is to an Apache. I let the stone tell me what it wants to be and allow its spirit to dictate the finished product. And if it’s carved out of stone, it will last forever.”
His sculptures are known for possessing strong lines of balance, grace, and movement as they portray authentic native life and customs. “Creativity is in my heart,” he says when asked if he has ever had formal art training. As a self-taught artist, he adds: “You have to work to fulfill your dreams and if you do so, the hardships you encountered in that process can turn into happiness.”
Generally eschewing power tools, Kaydahzinne says he prefers traditional sculpting. “I love to work with my own hands responsible for hammering and chiseling. I don’t have models I work with because everything is already in my mind and my heart and the beauty comes out from within.
“When I look at my sculptures, it feels like anything I do always has my ancestors as a part of it ... almost like, wow, I’m bringing them out of the stone that I discovered myself and worked from start to finish. The ancestors are here and I can express them through my creations. It’s like a bridge, trying to connect the time of old to today and in the process, let the world know that we’re still alive and strong.”
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