Keli’i Eli is a first generation Zuni Pueblo and Hawaiian Native fetish carver & stone sculptor. Born and raised in Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico, he is self-taught and first started carving Pueblo fetish carvings in November 2015. Over the past six years, he’s attended numerous art shows including the Heard Museum in Phoenix Arizona, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C., and more recently, Arizona Arts Festival in Scottsdale.
Keli’i sees beauty in mother earth and uses natural stones and precious elements to bring his visions to life. He is a firm believer that the stone chooses the artist. “There’s a spirit, a plethora of positive energy, waiting to be shared with the world,” says Keli’i. Using skills and techniques he’s developed over the years, he carves what the stone tells him. Most times, while carving, pieces of stone chip off that Keli’i never intended, and he believes this is the stone telling him that it wants to take on a different form. Ultimately, every carving is unique.
Keli’i is constantly creating new works at his home studio in Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico. Commissioned works are always welcome and no vision too large for him to tackle. “Art is medicine,” says Keli’i.