Eveli Sabatie

“I was born in 1940 in eastern Algeria, North Africa, to parents of French, Spanish and who knows what origins. My first real remembrance (circa 1945) feels like a vivid awakening: it is cold and we are moving over windy high mountain roads. I am sitting alone in the back of a large military truck among sacks of flour. The following day I discover we are in a Berber village high in the Atlas Mountains, snow everywhere.”

Her childhood was spent mostly in Oujda, Morocco, near the Algerian border. Eveli describes memories of her early life and how it would inspire her later work: “The turquoise blues, the blue-greens, the lapis blues of tiles inlaid into the walls of the mosques and the fountains, the calls to prayer and the feast after the fast. The covered streets of the medina with streaks of light coming through and the play of shadows that ensued. The sound of anklets and bangles walking by. My love for bright colors, gauzy fabrics and embroidered garments, my love for large jewels, for spices and drums—all of it is rooted in these primal impressions.”

She left North Africa as a teenager to study at the Sorbonne in Paris, and never returned. Although a notable scholar, her youth and health problems led her to quit teaching and eventually found herself in the heyday of the Haight-Ashbury scene in San Francisco. A chance encounter in an elevator led to an invitation to New Oraibi on the Hopi Reservation.

“At the very instant I touched the Hopi soil and got a glimpse into its ceremonial life my searching stopped: this was the authenticity of the human heart which I had been looking for.” Shortly after arriving at Hopi, she met Charles Loloma, who offered to teach her how to make jewelry. This was the beginning of what Eveli has termed the “creative explosion,” which spanned over 20 years from 1973-1997.
“My teacher, Loloma, had the talent and skills to unlock my creativity and help me deliver all the treasures I had amassed on this already long journey. In his presence and in the midst of Hopi songs and dances, a door was swung open through which thousands of pieces were about to gush out.”

Eveli stopped making jewelry in 1998 largely due to physical conditions. A yoga practitioner since the ‘70’s, she began teaching yoga in 1995, and lives in Arizona.

-----Courtesy of Eveli