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Alvin James Mayka (1936-ca.2003)


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Alvin James Mayka (1936-ca.2003) signatureAlvin James Makya brought many important contributions to the development of Hopi carving.  He made the leap from traditional Katsinas to ‘Action Figures’ to fine art wooden sculptures.  He also developed new techniques and tried new materials.  He recalled: ‘I think I was one of the first ones that tried sculpture and also the technique of painting the dolls with small strokes, making it look like the Kachinas themselves and letting some of the flesh show.  Now everybody does that.  I also used acrylic paints instead of flat paints.’

“Alvin hand-carved feathers, rather than using real feathers.  He was one of the first to try basswood, a heavy, imported wood that comes in big chunks.  In contrast with cottonwood root, basswood allows for finer detailed carving.  Some of the most refined dolls have taken up to three years to complete, while working on other smaller dolls that can be finished more quickly.

“Alvin James Makya and Wilfred Tewawina are credited as the originators of a style of Katsinas called ‘realistic sculptures.’  Clara Lee Tanner popularized Alvin’s contributions in Ray Manley’s Hopi Kachinas book.  By 1977, Alvin’s carvings were valued higher than any other carver at the annual Hopi Show.” Schaaf 2008:199