Three artists at Rehoboth McKinley Christian Healthcare Services’ (RMCHCS) Healing Hands Studio are among the top 20 percent who received awards from the 1,191 entries made at Gallup’s 97th Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial. The awards were bestowed by a panel of judges and announced at the event’s arts and crafts opening ceremony at Red Rock Park on the evening of August 8th. Three judges in each classification selected first and second place winners from sub-categories, a best in category and best in class.
Gallup award recipients included Lawrence Besselente, Norman Chee and Kristy Lunasee. Besselente received a first-place ribbon in the non-traditional pottery category in the class of pottery for “Cornmeal Bowl”, a handmade, rock polished and hand painted 7″x5″ cornmeal bowl with a red and black Zuni flower design.

Second place ribbon winners were Chee and Lunasee. Chee won in the ceremonial items category in the class of tribal arts for “Serenity Box”, a 16″x 8″x 8″ feather box with a Navajo landscape scene of Kokopeli using woodburn, stain and acrylic paint. Lunasee won in the non-traditional pottery category in the class of pottery for “Seed Pot”, a 5″x 4″ non-traditional handmade, rock polished and hand painted clay pot with Zuni style designs of a hummingbird and flowers.

“Our judges are experts in their respective fields and award a ribbon to only those who perform above the expected level of workmanship and artistry. Congratulations to the talented RMCHCS artists and craftsmen, we encourage them to continue their work and look forward to seeing them enter their pieces for competition next year,” said Emerald Tanner, the event’s exhibit hall manager. “The art that we saw this year was elevated. We saw incredible artistry in every classification and category. The pieces that garner awards are deserving, and we take pride in honoring those artists.”

Healing Hands Studio Helps Addicts and Homeless
RMCHCS had seven entries this year from its Healing Hands Studio which is located at the Rehoboth McKinley Christian Substance Abuse Treatment Center where former addicts and the homeless are provided with shelter, food and clothing while undergoing rehabilitation and treatment. The studio has three teachers who are graduates of the art program and oversee on average more than a dozen students at a time who make a range of artworks from plates, dishes, dinnerware and cornmeal bowls to contemporary and native sculptures and paintings.

Those who submitted art work are graduates of the program. The voluntary participants spend 20 hours in counseling and 20 hours in various jobs at the facility such as artwork, grounds keeping, food preparation, maintenance and other positions. Eventually they qualify for positions outside of the facility.

“This a great victory for our employees who have practiced and honed their skills to teach others,” said Katie Schultz, pottery enterprise director. “These awards demonstrate the quality of work our graduates provide whether in the highly skilled art world or competitive work environment. All of our graduates are winners.”

The studio emerged as a business a year ago from a program using art as a therapeutic exercise for residents. It grew when the Southwest Indian Association began including resident’s work in its national catalog. The studio also sells artwork directly by appointment at 505-726-6914 and is available at Gallup’s nightly Indian dances, Arts Crawl and the Gallup Flea Market. A website for online sales is in the works to keep up with demand.

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