For Elroy Natachu Jr. and Kandis Quam, the decision to join the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project this year was not a difficult one to make. The 31-year-old cousins, born just a month apart and raised in Zuni, are working artists and business partners — and the nonprofit youth organization is in the process of launching an art apprenticeship program that will give young people the artistic and business skills they need to create thriving art careers of their own.
As in so many Zuni families, art is an intergenerational calling that is deeply rooted in the culture. Natachu’s father is a silversmith, and his mother works with textiles; as a boy, he said he also was exposed to pottery and traditional cooking.
“I had my hands in a lot of things,” he recalled. “I used a sewing machine for the first time at the age of 10."
Quam’s parents and grandparents are artists. Most of the family, she explained, are either fetish carvers or jewelers.