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Melvin Sandoval

Melvin Sandoval, of San Felipe/Zuni descent; is a cheerful and enthusiastic fetish carver. His elegant carvings - typically badgers, bears, horned toads, mountain lions, moles and birds - have minimal detail, not even eyes. Stylized geometric lines distill the essence of the animal in an unadorned aesthetic. Melvin prefers matte stones such as sandstone, pipestone, alabaster and dolomite, and often achieves added detail through perceptive use of color variations in the stone. Oftentimes his sleek, low-lying creatures are crouched in an almost defensive pose which gives them a quiet drama. We have asked Melvin to create offering bundles for his animals, thus many of the carvings he has made for Sunshine do.

Melvin Sandoval's creatures are composed of simplistic rounded forms. His animals are hand holders; for one wants to hold them. The modified detail conjures a belief in the viewer that these animals are old; as they are seemingly carved in what we like to call the 'traditional Zuni style'; a style that dates back to the Anasazi ruins in Chaco Canyon roughly from 1030 - 1300 AD. So the carvings activate our collective consciousness -The viewer feels connected to an earlier time when these fetishes were carved to empower their owner.  

Melvin was born of a Zuni father and a San Felipe mother. He was raised in Zuni and in earlier years, he was a policeman & a DJ in Zuni. Today he lives in San Felipe. In 2013, the Sandovals built a Zuni Shalako House. His wife, Erma Vacit, from a prominent Zuni family, now lives in the Zuni Shalako House and is a high-level accountant for the Zuni tribe.