Announcer: Welcome to an Arizona State Museum podcast. This podcast is part of a series of short interviews with Native American artists. This interview took place at the Southwest Indian Art Fair in 2008.
Lisa Falk: I'm Lisa Falk, director of the Arizona State Museum's education department and I am sitting with Anthony Garcia. He is a jeweler from the Pascua Yaqui tribe. And he lives up in Guadalupe, which is near Phoenix. How are you Anthony?
Anthony Garcia: Oh, fine, thank you very much.
Lisa: Thanks for joining me today. I wanted to ask you how you got your start in jewelry making.
Anthony: Actually it runs in my family. My older brother was actually my teacher, and he taught me right out of high school to be a silversmith. I kind of picked it up from there, and he showed me some technical skills through a lapidary to do my own stone cutting. So, he showed me the basics, and I kind of picked it up from there.
Lisa: And you mentioned that he travels around the world and that he gets the stones in the rough and that's what you use?
Anthony: Yes. I purchase all my stones from him, because he gets really high-grade stone. And I like to use high-grade stone.
Lisa: And what's your favorite mineral or gem that you work with?
Anthony: It is probably turquoise. I like it because it's the easiest to get the polish on.
Lisa: Any particular kind of turquoise?
Anthony: I like Sleeping Beauty, Bisbee, Kingman, all the Arizona stones.
Lisa: OK. Can you tell me what kinds of things you make into jewelry? Are you making necklaces? What are you making?
Anthony: I make pendants, rings, bracelets, belt buckles, ranger sets, earrings. I also do pins. I do hummingbird pins, and lizards.
Lisa: Why hummingbirds and lizards?
Anthony: Because they are kind of like a traditional animal that the Yaquis kind of revere. They revere hummingbirds because they fly around, and they are part of their culture pretty much. And I just like the colors in them pretty much too.
Lisa: The hummingbirds. And the lizards?
Anthony: The lizards are just part of Arizona. I feel that you see them everywhere. I see them everywhere in my house, geckos. They come out at night and you see them with their different colors and the way they move, I like to catch that in the piece.
Lisa: And you said you learned from your brother to do silversmithing. How old were you when you start learning? How long have you been doing this?
Anthony: I was probably in the eighth grade, 12, 13 years old when I first was exposed to the art field. And after high school, I kind of picked it up from my older brother.
Lisa: And this is what you do to make your living?
Anthony: Yes, it is.
Lisa: So you are pretty successful then?
Anthony: I hope to be.
Lisa: Do you do shows just in Arizona, or do you travel beyond?
Anthony: Actually mainly around Arizona and the states around Arizona is where I travel to. Like New Mexico, I've been to Colorado, California, Texas, just the Southwest states pretty much. I haven't really traveled across the U.S. yet.
Lisa: And I know we have a piece in our collection at the Arizona State Museum. Are there other collections that hold pieces of your work?
Anthony: Actually, they are the only museum that has a piece in their permanent collection. But the museum, the Heard Museum always purchases from me, so they carry my stuff in their gift shop.
Lisa: Oh, lovely. And can you tell me where you get the ideas for your designs?
Anthony: Mostly it comes from the stone. Once I get the stone I like to just, like imagine what I can put the stone in. So it comes from the stone and the stone kind of tells you what it wants to be pretty much to me.
Lisa: And what do you like best about being a silversmith and a jeweler?
Anthony: Just the excitement that people see when they see your work. That is what I kind of get a thrill out of.
Lisa: It is wonderful. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Anthony: I just hope to be participating in more shows around the country.
Lisa: Well, your work is lovely.
Anthony: Thank you.
Lisa: Thank you very much.
Transcription by CastingWords