Desta Shaw talks to Kelly Tungovia

Desta: My name is Desta Shaw. My major is in Creative Writing, with an emphasis in Fiction.

Kelly: I’m Kelly Tungovia. I come from the Hopi tribe located in Arizona, and my major Studio Arts with an emphasis on painting.

Desta: In your bio, you talk about the female perspective being in your work. And I was wondering, how do you define the female perspective in your own words, and how do you want to portray the female perspective in your work?

Kelly: Basically throughout the whole process I like to put the female perspective because growing up everything is naturally new. How I see it is that there’s not really that much, or that many, Hopi female painters. And I like to paint, like, seeing it from a girl’s perspective versus male because usually it’s only the males that are like, basically the crafters and artists. So, in a way the whole process, my whole process is kind of the female perspective.

Desta: I was wondering, just because you have your four pieces on here and they don’t have titles. Is there a reason why they’re all untitled?

Kelly: Oh, so this is the thing I struggle the most with! Naming my art pieces, I usually wait till I’m done with every one of them. And sometimes, I don’t have a title for them. I think that’s just one of the main things I struggle with being an artist, because I’m not sure what or how I want to represent it in that way.

Desta: I completely understand that, I always have the hardest time coming up with titles because it’s like, how do you make this one title fit everything that it is, what it means, and gives it a greater purpose or meaning.

Kelly: Yeah, how is it gonna describe every little thing happening.

Desta: In your bio you talked about how your grandmothers are your inspiration and I was wondering, where else do you find your inspiration? And what about your grandmothers gives you your inspiration?

Kelly: I would have to say my inspiration comes from within nature as well, because what I’ve noticed now is that in most of the things I always have to include a butterfly or, like, waterways or something. I think it’s just  mainly because when I was growing up, both of my grandmothers were the ones who basically raised me and my mom was just working on things. So I guess in that kind of a way it represents both of my grandmothers.

Desta: It was mentioned that you often use the themes of ceremony and symbolism. How do you use symbols in your art to play for a larger meaning? Like on your first piece that’s here, there are these snowflakes and they are very specifically detailed , and then there’s that like, I don’t know what it actually is, so I apologize for my description of it. Its like this comb.

Kelly: In the top corner?

Desta: Yeah. I was wondering if these symbols were there for specific reason or if it gives like a emotion that comes from that symbol that makes you put them in your piece?

Kelly: Little bit of both, I guess it’s kind of hard for me to explain what I’m feeling, I guess in a way when I’m painting. So, in a way my paintings, express or do the communication for me. And with this symbolism. It’s just how, how I feel within that kind of opinion and how I come up with it on my own.

Desta: Do you think seasons are another one of your themes in your work? Because you have the kind of summer and winter vibes going on in these pieces.

Kelly: Yeah. This is actually my first time kind of dealing with the seasons in a way, as like the main focus of it. But I think it’ll be, maybe something that I can keep doing, for these paintings I wanted them to represent the winter and the summer. So that’s why they portrayed the seasons.

Desta: You talked about how nature has started to be one of those inspirations in your pieces. And I’m wondering, do you affiliate any of these pieces with like a memory or like something that was happening at that moment, that inspired it.

Kelly: Not really. I never really thought about it like that. I would probably say no but then in some way, there is a little part of it, that has memory but I just don’t know which memory.

Desta:  So, with your last two pieces. There’s one that it looks like it has water dumped on its head. And the other one. It kind of looks like it has a sun on top of it. I was just wondering what the meaning behind those are? Because there isn’t like a person or person like figure in them. Cuz from the piece that I’m looking at it looks like just water is just gushing down on it, And it’s like splattering all over. Then the other looks like it has this outline of the sun on it’s head. 


Kelly: I should actually show you this. I have one of them done, and I’m working on the other one right now. So here’s that one.

Desta: Oh! okay!

Kelly: yeah so I actually did a little bit further work on top of it, it’s kind of like a headdress, in a way. So this one is the buffalo man, And that one we’ll go with the winter one and then this one is the water meeting. Yeah, so the I think you said, it was like the sun.

Desta: Yeah, it looks like the sun from just the outline.

Kelly: This is what it looks like right now. It’s actually gonna be a headdress.

Desta: I’m sorry I have terrible eye sight. Is that like corn, like the colored corn?

Kelly: Yeah and then on top, right here will be a water club. Now you can see the paintings more that they’re finished.

Desta: I know that with a lot of these things, they have representation of what beliefs, there are certain meanings behind them, is there a specific reason you chose these certain ones for the headdress? 

Kelly: Um, no. In a way, everybody just makes up their own design. So this is what I came up with when I was sketching it out.

Desta: If you had left it like that was when you had it for this. Was there a reason that you

Kelly: Well, this is my first time, like doing whole body figure in a painting. Usually I only do like the head, and that’s it, because like I’m no good at the posture and stuff on the body figure. So, my painting teacher, I was asking him how like I could do it in a way. And so what I did, or what he mentioned was the underpainting, and that would be the shadowing so that’s what it was, it was just the shadow and the sketch on there then you go over with color. And you know like, they’re like, kind of, you will have the shadow and you just add the color, and then you just fix it to make it how you want.

Desta: Well thank you for meeting with me today! I hope you have a wonderful day!

Kelly: Thank you, you too!

Kelly Tungovia

Kelly Tungovia is an emerging Hopi artist. She is currently completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, NM with an emphasis inpainting and a minor in Museum Studies. Her an anticipated graduation date in Spring of 2022.As an ambassador and Miss Hopi First Attendant, Tungovia worked closely with her community. A professional experience that has guided her in the practice of creating art also includes working for a local Hopi podcast, called Carl and J-man Save the World, working as their digital artist