The Highlight of the Month program at The Indian Craft Shop focuses on a particular craft area, region or artist family/group. Our aim is to illustrate the diversity of tribal groups and the wide variety of artistic expressions and traditions in the country today.
George "Shukata" Willis is an artist producing wonderfully innovative and original work. Trained at the Southern California College of Jewelry Design and The Starline Jewelry in Los Angeles, he has been a professional jeweler since 1964. He operated his own jewelry shop until 1990, when he began to incorporate themes and images from his American Indian heritage into his work.
George uses a very wide variety of material and techniques in his designs. Working with silver, gold, platinum and a myriad of precious and semi-precious stones, he creates both one of a kind and limited edition pieces. To create his editions, he uses lost wax casting. In this process, a wax model is encased within a mold and then replaced with molten metal, reproducing the exact original shape in metal. His one of a kind pieces demonstrate a command of a very wide range of fabrication techniques, and although his designs are innovative and contemporary, they clearly express his sense of connection to his Choctaw heritage. Examples of this are his "Spirit People". Made to represent faces and figures, Shukata uses unusual stones such as rhodocrosite, Mexican opal, crystalline mineral druzies, and a variety of agates for the faces and forms, adorning them with headdresses of precious metal which call to mind the traditional head gear the Southeastern tribes. He is a master of designing around the natural features of a stone so that the patterns in an agate, for example, will echo facial features.
George Shukata Willis took the top award at the Indian Arts and Crafts Association annual Market last October for a gold ring titled "Dancing on the Mesa" which features a miniature fancy dancer circling a tiny fire. The dancer actually moves around the top of ring by means of a mechanism hidden within the ring, a perfect example of how his design sensibility and technical expertise combine to create award-winning jewelry. George Shukata Willis was chosen as the Indian Arts and Crafts Association Artist of the Year for 2000, a well-deserved honor for an exciting and unique artist.
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©The Indian Craft Shop 2000