Indigenous art. Indigenous perspectives.

Shane R. Hendren Wins 2023 Maxwell/Hanrahan Award in Craft

Shane R. Hendren

Shane R. Hendren (Navajo). Photo: Janessa Guerro. Images courtesy of the artists and the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation.

Portola Valley, CA — Navajo jeweler and multimedia artist, Shane R. Hendren received a 2023 Maxwell/Hanrahan Award in Craft. The San Francisco Bay Area–based foundation gave out six of these unrestricted $100,000 awards that are among the largest awards for craftspeople and artists in the country.

Based in Albuquerque, Hendren is well-known for his jewelry and metalwork, which honors the culture and worldviews of his Navajo and European ancestors. Speaking to histories of colonization, Shane recognizes craft as a means of passing knowledge and histories down through generations, even amidst violent suppression of Native culture and practices.

His creations can be found in public and private collections around the world, including the British Museum (London), the Heard Museum (Phoenix, AZ), and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (Santa Fe, NM).

Shane R. Hendren

Shane R. Hendren (Navajo), “K’aalo’gii (Butterfly) Necklace,” 2021, sterling silver, blue topaz, fabricated and hand engraved, 22 inches long, private collection. Photo: Simone Button.

In May 2023, Shane received his MFA in Studio Art from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), and his thesis exhibition opened jointly at the Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts and Container, both in Santa Fe.

Blurring Lines between Fine Art and Craft

While his focus for the past 30 years has largely been metalsmithing, Hendren recently began working across new media and techniques. He has branched into film and 3D printing. For his thesis exhibition, he has created several films, as well as a multimedia installation. This work explores the stories of descendants of Genízaros—those whose Native ancestors, often Navajo, Apache, and Ute, were enslaved by Spanish colonizers—and their familial histories in the Southwest.

Administered by United States Artists, the Maxwell-Hanrahan Awards in Craft seek to support craftspeople’s work in ways that recognize the importance of their varied, hands-on explorations of cultural heritage, emerging technologies, materials, and trades – and the intersections between them.

Shane R. Hendren

Shane R. Hendren (Navajo), “Nizhoni Toothpick Holder,” 2022, sterling silver, 14k gold, sapphires, pink tourmaline, 4 × 1½ in, wide, collection of Heard Museum. Photo: Simone Button.

The other 2023 Maxwell/Hanrahan awardees are multimedia artist Adebunmi Gbadebo, furniture maker, artist and educator Aspen Golann, timber framer Blain Snipstal, and glass sculptor Leo Tecosky.

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