Raised on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, Keri Ataumbi was exposed to both traditional Native American aesthetics and contemporary art theory and practice from an early age. Her Kiowa mother ran a trading post and her Italian-American father is famous for his bronze sculptures. Ataumbi and her sister were encouraged to pursue their individual interests in art. Today, her sister, Teri Greeves, is well known for her unconventional beadwork.
Ataumbi attended Rhode Island School of Design before moving to Santa Fe in 1990. There, she worked as a landscape designer while attending the Institute of American Indian Arts and eventually received a BFA in painting with a minor in art history from the College of Santa Fe.
In creating what she terms “wearable art,” she is interested in exploring the relationship between a piece of jewelry and the human body. Ataumbi’s silver cuff bracelets, some adorned with 14-karat gold dragonflies, some with bees and tiny gold or diamond “honey drops,” are show-stoppers. Her stunning work can be worn not only as personal adornment, but can often stand alone as sculptural art as well.
While her technique remains rooted in tradition, Ataumbi manages to seamlessly blend geometric, modern design with natural, organic undertones. Her innovative work has appealed to traditional collectors and contemporary jewelry lovers alike. She lives with her husband in the country near Santa Fe, tending to their honeybees, orchard, organic vegetable garden, dogs, and cat.