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Keri Ataumbi


Dec 15, 2021

Keri Ataumbi (born 1971) is a Kiowa artist, who paints and sculpts, but is most known as a jewelry maker. Her works have been featured in exhibits and permanent collections of various museums including the Heard Museum, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Peabody Essex Museum, Philbrook Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. In 2015, she and her sister, Teri Greeves were honored as Living Treasures by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Keri Ataumbi
Keri Sue Greeves

1971 (age 4950)

Nationality American
Other names Keri Sue Ataumbi
Occupation jewelry artist, painter, sculptor
Years active 1990–present
Relatives Teri Greeves (sister)

. . . Keri Ataumbi . . .

Keri Sue Greeves was born in 1971[1] on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Lander, Wyoming to Jeri Ah-be-hill and Richard V. Greeves. Her father was an artist and sculptor of Italian-American heritage. Her mother, a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma with Comanche heritage, ran the trading post at Fort Washakie for nearly thirty years.[2][3] She and her older sister, Teri grew up on the Eastern Shoshone, rather than the Northern Arapaho part of Wind River Reservation and were strongly influenced by their parents. As a child, Keri watched her father pour metal in his forge for his sculpture[4] and was fascinated by his foundry. She learned both rebellion and an appreciation for the technical skill required for art from her father, and later said that she and her sister, “owe our careers to him”.[5] She also saw her mother market Native American goods to try to bring them to a wider audience and learned to identify the characteristics of quality work.[4] She credits her mother for having taught her to celebrate her Kiowa heritage through her individual expression.[6]

Homeschooled until high school, Ataumbi graduated from The Cambridge School of Weston, near Boston. Then, at the suggestion of her art teacher Todd Bartel, she enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design.[7] After a year in 1990, Greeves decided to leave school and move to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where her mother had relocated.[7][8] That year, she legally changed her name to Keri Sue Ataumbi,[9] appending the surname of her grandmother Carrie Susie Ataumbi, after whom she had been named.[10] She briefly worked in retail and then opened a landscaping business with a friend. Simultaneously, she began showing and selling paintings in several art galleries. When her business partner decided to go to medical school, they dissolved the partnership and Ataumbi returned to school as well. She enrolled at the Institute of American Indian Arts to improve her painting skill and after earning an associate degree in 1996, went on to further her education at the College of Santa Fe, now the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in painting, having minored in Art History.[7][8] She was strongly influenced by her instructor Linda Swanson, who taught her to find her own vision and face critique of her work. After graduating, Ataumbi decided to pursue a master’s degree and enrolled at the University of New Mexico. Within six months, she decided to leave, as she did not want to become a teacher and wanted to focus on her art. Taking a beginners course in jewelry making at a local community college, Ataumbi found her niche in the art world and began producing jewelry. [11]

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