Master Inyo Paiute Jewelry Artist
A member of the federally recognized Paiute-Shoshone Bands of the Inyo Mono Yosemite Great Basin Region of Eastern Sierra California, Bishop Indian Reservation. I have served three times on the tribe’s tribal council and two times as chairman of the tribal council. I am over 85 years old and over 50 of those years I have spent making jewelry. For the last some 35 years, I have qualified to participate in the Santa Fe Indian Market. This reflects the consistent quality and innovation I incorporate in my jewelry that includes my Native American Indian heritage, culture, tradition, and spiritual relationship of the sacred union of Mother Earth and the Great Spirit. This union provides the circle of life on our life’s sacred journey. These natural native concepts and sacred feelings influence the genuine concrete creativity and a unique style that gives my jewelry a natural timeless elegance.
As a master Inyo Paiute artist (Inyo meaning a dwelling place of a Great Spirit), Michael Rogers makes handmade jewelry and bracelets designed after water rippling over a rock in a brook; inlayed rings with gem quality natural stones representing the rays of the sun appearing over the mountain tops. The ring stone colors are made to blend like a rainbow as clouds pass before the sun. He also combines the beautiful colors of flowers that grow in the mountains and the valley of Yosemite.
His spiritual relationship between the environment, his soul as an artist, and the Great Spirit of Life are represented in every piece he creates. The beauty of these abstract concepts and the timeless color interactions show that art in any form is a world of unlimited possibilities.
The high dome glaciered mountain rock cut formations of Yosemite provide the concept for his high dome jewelry in bracelets, rings, earrings and hair pieces.
His eagle feather jewelry represents the Inyo Paiute culture and tradition of the spiritual relationship in the eagle’s role as the communicator between our Mother Earth and our Father the Great Spirit of the heaven. He hand sandcasts and hand fabricates bolos, bracelets, and rings in silver and gold. Some of his jewelry represents the petroglyph art made by the ancestors, the old ones.
His hallmark is the jackrabbit that has helped sustain the Paiute people of the Great Basin country for thousands of years. He feels that by incorporating his culture, tradition and the environment into his jewelry concepts that it provides a sense of timelessness and beauty that is forever present.
As a child growing up on the reservation, Michael could only make jewelry out of wood with his pocket knife. Now, 75 years later, his jewelry is still handmade and fashioned in silver and gold.
One of the last Authentic California Indian Handmade jewelers, with 55 years of experience, he is a true master of his art.
His handmade jewelry is loaded with rich textures, colors and design. The cliche, (lots of blood, sweat, and tears went into the making) is not far off with his art, more so than that is the time put into handmade jewelry. The outcome is very apparent to it’s manufactured counterpart.
His artwork has a modern look but is based on old themes. While attending UC Davis, he met a well known Cherokee painter George Cochran, who told him, “If you want to do anything new, look to the Old.”
He took Cochran’s advise to heart and began studying Aztec art, until it finally came to him that even older is Mother Earth.
Since then his inspiration has been the environment. His modern designs represent natural things anywhere from the rays of the sun to rippling water in a stream.
In 1992, he was privileged to exhibit his jewelry art at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. – The Smithsonian Institution – because his jewelry art was considered exceptional and contemporary fine art of high caliber.