When the Time Comes

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By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer, 2015 Artists in Business Leadership Fellow

Molina Parker (Oglala Lakota) is a Lakota bead artist, one in a long line of artisans from her Two Bulls and Ten Fingers families. She lives in the community of Red Shirt Table on the Pine Ridge Reservation with her husband — also an artist — and their child.

To say 2016 moved fast for Molina Parker is an understatement. The rapid passing of time included a residency at the Crazy Horse Monument; joining the B.Yellowtail Collective; having jewelry represented in the upscale jewelry store Twila True by Mardo; a business trip to Newport Beach, which involved being part of the Lakota artists represented at the True Sioux Hope Foundation Gala; acceptance into the Heard Indian Art Market; and the move to Red Shirt Table with her husband and baby. In between these travels she created a new logo, business cards and banner; designed a new line of jewelry (Grandma's Garden); and had a necklace win its division at the Red Cloud Art Show, while a bracelet won at Native POP.

But time has also slowed. Molina examined what she needed to do to move her art business from cute to professional. Her opinion has changed — rather than small pieces that sell quickly, she wants to invest in large pieces that are meaningful to her in a personal way. She takes more time to create something beautiful and with a deeper sense of pride, which enables her to sell her work.

Every day, Molina challenges herself to do something she’s never done. And with a good heart to create memories in every piece she makes, sometimes using designs inspired by her Lakota ancestors. She works primarily with size 13 Czech glass beads, elk hide, and high-quality crystals and metals. Some of her designs are inspired by Lakota clothing and accessories from the 1800s. Hers are pieces to stand the test of time, as her people have.

A passing of one test came at the SWAIA Indian Market. While Molina was there to assist her husband with his booth, fashion designer Bethany Yellowtail (Northern Cheyenne and Crow), a former FPF fellow, approached Molina and said she’d been looking for her to purchase a piece of Molina’s work. Having been inspired by all Bethany has accomplished, Molina never dreamed the founder of B.Yellowtail Collective would seek to collect from her!

Perhaps for that moment, time stood still. And Molina knew the time had come to take her art seriously.

Molina Parker is a 2016 Artists in Business Leadership Fellow.