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Santa Fe Indian Market artist breaks from tradition with digital images

Adrian Standing-Elk Pinnecoose blazes a crescent smile above the electric wheelchair that doubles as his legs.

His fingers tap the laptop in his Albuquerque dining room, and a grid pops onto the screen.

“I start conceptualizing different geometric patterns,” he said.”From there, I start to play with ideas and pull geometric shapes.”

At 28, Pinnecoose has juried into the 95th Santa Fe Indian Market’s EDGE program of curated contemporary artists on Saturday, Aug. 20 and Sunday, Aug. 21. Corralled into the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, EDGE offers a platform for artwork extending beyond the boundaries of more traditional Indian Market categories, such as pottery, jewelry and painting.

“It was a way to highlight some of the contemporary, newer images I was seeing,” said Dallin Maybee, chief operating officer of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, the market’s umbrella organization. “A lot of people have this antiquated view of traditional Indian art forms. Unless you went to every booth, you wouldn’t know (there was more). This was a way to pull them out of the mass of Indian Market.”

The largest and most prestigious show of its kind, this year’s Indian Market features about 920 artists from 230 tribes helming 750 booths around the Plaza.

Featured categories include film, youth, pottery, clothing, sculpture, jewelry, beadwork, quillwork, painting and textiles, among others.

At EDGE, about 20 artists will showcase sculpture, painting, light and digital productions.

Pinnecoose juried in with his digital prints.

“We don’t get many digital artists applying,” Maybee said. “I think the judges just liked the abstraction.”

A blue mohawk swirled atop his head, Pinnecoose is dressed in an Escher-inspired lattice shirt and bow tie. Spiked shoes complete his op art-meets punk ensemble. Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy as an infant, the 28-year-old artist creates when he isn’t studying at the University of New Mexico.

Pinnecoose graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 2015. In the fall, he’ll start a master’s in science and architecture program; in 2017, he’ll begin his master’s in fine and electronic arts. “I just love school,” he said. “I love learning new things.”

“I want to start my own design firm afterwards,” Pinnecoose continued. “I just don’t want to focus on one thing. I love architecture, but I also want to design furniture, clothes and utensils, the smallest, tiny thing you can think of.”

Pinnecoose grew up in Santa Fe, the son of jewelry artist Laverne Gold Tooth. He remembers accompanying her to Indian Market and gallery exhibits. His great-grandmother wove the two Navajo rugs draped over his couch. Their angular motifs provide regular inspiration for his designs.

His mother died three years ago at age 53, 1½ years after being diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. Since her death, a caretaker, his two brothers and friends help him get dressed and fed and chauffeur him to school. He attends both physical and speech therapy.

When he swims, he feels free.

Pinnecoose creates a story for every design, imbuing each with a sense of symmetry, harmony and balance.

“Clarity” features winged chevrons rising above a figurative image.

“The idea behind it was letting go and moving forward and letting go of the negativity or the burdens you hold,” he said. “My mom would always instill in me to be happy and stay positive. I’ve really tried to hold on to that, even though she’s not here. I wake up happy every day.

“My mom told me I wasn’t any different from anybody else,” he continued. “She told me I could do anything I wanted to do.”

He’s hoping to take 16 prints to the market. He was thrilled to jury in for the first time.

“I thought of my mom and how she would be happy.

“My mom told me … not to think of myself as (having) a disability,” he said. “I’m constantly thinking of things I want to do. Life is so beautiful and can be taken away from you so fast. I still tell her good morning and good night every day.”