Heidi Bigknife was born in Enid, Oklahoma, and grew up in Denver, Colorado, where her mother worked as an interior designer and her father as a commercial pilot. Heidi remembers doing countless art and craft projects with her mother where she developed the skill to create ‘something out of nothing.’ While in grade school, BigKnife was placed in a gifted and talented program through which she was afforded the opportunity to tour various museums and view art that she would have otherwise not had the opportunity to, and in high school, she was the only female enrolled in drafting and shop classes. Shawnee on her mother’s side, BigKnife’s heritage began to play a large role in her life during her college years and she adopted her maternal grandmother’s maiden name.
Heidi continued her education attending Beloit College in Wisconsin and received a Bachelor of Studio Arts degree with a focus on photography, followed by an associates degree from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe for two and three dimensional design. She then earned a MFA at the University of Illinois studying color photography, digital imaging, and videography. After completing her associate degree in Santa Fe, Heidi took her first jewelry making class from Lane Coulter. Currently living in Oklahoma, she is a skilled metalsmith who enjoys combining political and social messages into her pieces. Some of her works are featured in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts and the Heard Museum. Heidi’s designs are inspired by language, history, texture, kinetics, beauty, and nature.
In her own words, “In all my work I enjoy exploring the qualities that metal can offer both conceptually and aesthetically. Reticulation, stamping, raising, casting and patination all add to the inherent beauty of the metal surface. I often embellish my pieces with natural stones and beads such as chrysoprase, amethyst, shell, and moonstone – materials that speak to me of earth and water. These connections guide me in creating jewelry that I hope is entirely unique.”