Thanks to CNM’s new jewelry program, Devin Edison found the skills to become the first person in his family to work as an artist. As he puts it, CNM’s program gave him a “reboot”, allowing him to work his way into learning the techniques to create the pieces he does today.
Born and raised in Albuquerque, Devin’s family comes from Many Farms, Arizona, in the Navajo Nation. Though there were no other jewelers in his family, family did start him on the path to discovering his own art. Devin had started off at CNM in the Carpentry program. His father was a construction worker and plumber, so Devin thought he wanted to build houses as well. His mother, who works in the CNM administration office, told him about the new jewelry program. In high school, he’d taught himself beadwork, some of which he sold at flea markets. So, he thought the jewelry classes might be interesting.
Devin’s instructor, Harley McDaniel, took note of Devin’s interest and his devotion to learning the skills of a jeweler. McDaniel talked about his student to a group of jewelers at a meeting also attended by Mathew Shepardson, owner of Turquoise Skies. Devin sounded like a good fit for the company, so Shepardson invited him to take a look at their facility.
It turns out they were exactly what he was looking for. The first class in the program, Jewelry I, taught him the basics: how to solder, etc. Devin made simple rings at first. Working his way through the classes, he added new skills and learned new techniques.
“I was amazed” Devin says, after walking around the facility that is home to the Turquoise Skies artist co-op. The shop has equipment, work space and other artists that he was able to begin working with. Being able to learn from and exchange ideas with other artists has helped Devin grow in his own skills as a jeweler. He’s making pieces both for himself and for Turquoise Skies, a partnership that’s helping him become a better craftsman and a better businessman.
Today Devin works on creating the pieces that show his artistic vision. He likes animal designs, because he says, “they are more sacred to all Native Americans”. For him, “jewelry says who we are”. He sees an arrowhead design as showing the wearer is a warrior, a bear design reveals a protector. The animals he puts on his pieces all come from the meanings he sees in them. He continues to work developing his techniques but says he “hasn’t grown into a business of his own yet.” For now, he’s enjoying the connections to other artists. In his free time, he visits flea markets and shows, happy for the chance to talk with people and see the work they do.