Meet Lydia Quinones

Yaqui Artisan.  Mesa, Arizona.  Lydia Quinones.

Lydia Quinones

A certified art teacher, Lydia Quinones is inspired by her own multicultural family in her artwork, which seeks to reflect the historical connections between Native American and Chinese cultures.  

A corner of "The Sweetest Fruit"

She finds she can create art nearly anywhere; if inspired by an object and the story she feels it represents, she will find a way to incorporate that object into her artwork.

Lydia's textile and ceramic sculptures were featured in Northwest Women's Magazine in 2008, but it wasn't until she attended an Arizona Artisans Collective (AAC) meeting that she considered establishing her own art business.


Lydia painting  "Mysterious Fruit"  Lydia painting in her studio

She supports the efforts of AAC to showcase and assist emerging artisans, and hopes through her culturally driven, creative artwork to refresh the perspective of Yaqui art and to encourage other Yaquis to express themselves artistically.

The Yaqui or Yoeme are Native Americans who inhabit the valley of the Río Yaqui in the Mexican state of Sonora and the Southwestern United States. They also have small settlements in Sinaloa, Chihuahua, and Durango. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe is based in Tucson, Arizona.​


​For the Grotto Gallery exhibit, Lydia focuses on persimmons, with which she became fascinated when she lived for a time in Inner Mongolia. 

​Best eaten when they are older, bruised and even coated with a powdery white layer of mold, persimmons reflect the goodness that can come from hardships in life and remind us that the harshest conditions can create the sweetest fruit. 

Through her persimmon collection in the Grotto Gallery exhibit, Lydia hopes viewers will be reminded of a sweeter outcome to the trials and problems of life.

Artist Q&A

GG:  Your must-have all time favorite tool to craft your work – and why?

Lydia:  Plastic Starbucks gift card.  Plastic gift cards are great substitutes for palette knives for painting or mixing resin, and substitute for wooden ribs/steel scrapers for ceramics.

​GG:  Your must-have all time favorite tool to craft your work – and why?

Lydia:  Plastic Starbucks gift card.  Plastic gift cards are great substitutes for palette knives for painting or mixing resin, and substitute for wooden ribs/steel scrapers for ceramics.

GG:  The most inspiring art-repreneur advise you’ve received from someone recently?

Lydia: ​​  ​Be consistent!

GG:  Tricks you use to carve out productive time in your studio/shop? 

Lydia:   ​I paint at the Downtown Mesa Festival of the Arts twice a month because it gives me space to work and commits me to be stationary, with my canvas and paints, for six hours.  If I try to paint at home, I know I’ll get distracted by other projects.

GG:  The least satisfying part of your fabrication process, and why? 

Lydia:  When your product is not based on materials which you can purchase, the smallest change can ruin a year’s worth of work.  Shearing goats is not fun.  When my goats were three years old, they got lice, most likely from migrating birds, and the entire batch of wool was ruined.  Earlier this year, I was growing gourds, to make Yaqui water drums, but I had trouble balancing the soil ph and amount of sun exposure.  I lost the entire crop.

GG:  A little fun-fact that many people may not know about you or your work or your creative process?

Lydia:  Antique stores are great resources for inspiration and unique inventory.  When I’m having a creative block, I visit the antique stores in Glendale or downtown Mesa. ​

Bonus Fun-Fact!

Weaving Scrools

And, because we just think this is really cool, we are going to share another fun-fact about Lydia.  This is a little blurb that she shared with us about what was behind the crafting of her series of wool wall hangings titled "The History of Us":

Prior to the Cultural Revolution, Chinese scrolls were used to document historical scenes and writings, using ink from ground charcoal. 

In the series “History of Us”, I utilize the form of a traditional Chinese scroll as a record of a period in my life, when I lived as a subsistence farmer in Washington state. The spun fibers in these works are sheared from animals which were raised by myself or neighbors. 

History of Us scroll

Shearing happened once in the spring and once in the fall.  The fibers were acquired from two angora goats, two llamas, two alpacas, three farm cats, one peacock, and one angora rabbit. 

After shearing, the fibers were washed, dyed, plied on a spinning wheel, and woven on a floor loom.  The average time involved in weaving a scroll, from start to finish, is about two years. 

Eventually, I parted with farming and moved to China, where I was inspired to assemble my cache of fibers in the form of scrolls, to document my story.

Red is commonly used in China to attract power and luck.  Each weaving contains a nylon red string, representing the red string of destiny, which is often worn around a person’s wrist.  The red tassel at the bottom of the scroll is adorned with a Chinese knot, associating the strength of the knot to the strength of family which displays this scroll in their home.  The hummingbird is a symbol of life in the culture of my ancestors, the Maya Yaqui.


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