Mamie Deschillie


is a Navajo artist known for her mud toys and cardboard cutouts. She was born on the Navajo Nation Reservation in northwestern New Mexico, and lives near Farmington, New Mexico, close to her family. She speaks only a few words of English and has had little formal education.An accomplished weaver of traditional Navajo rugs, Deschillie learned these skills while she was young. The mud toys that she makes are small figures made of clayand then dried in the sun. Made as playthings for children, they are part of a Navajo tradition that can be traced to the nineteenth century. Deschillie forms her clay primarily into animal forms: cows, sheep, buffalo, and a horse and rider. She decorates them with bits of fur, cloth, and jewelry, and highlights their features withtouches of paint. They are only a few inches in size and are very fragile.In the 1980s Deschillie began making cardboard cutouts that she decorates with bits of found objects and jewelry. Her smallest cutout is of a ten-inch, striped horsewith a woman rider in a colorful flowing skirt, wearing a turquoise necklace and earrings. She also makes larger pieces, such as a three-foot-high white buffalo withwhite cotton fur and a necklace and earrings of turquoise, accompanied by a one-foot-high baby white buffalo. Deschillie is most noted for these imaginative andwhimsical cutouts decorated with cloth and jewelry. And while her weaving and mud toys are in the Navajo tradition, Deschillie’s cutouts represent a departure fromwhat had been done in her Native American community.
See also
Native American Folk Art
McGreevy, Susan Brown. “I Never Saw a Purple Cow.”
American Indian Art Magazine
(autumn 1997): 48–57.Rosenak, Chuck, and Jan Rosenak.
The People Speak: Navajo Folk Art.
Flagstaff, Ariz., 1994