Over the years, Claudia Peina has created numerous unique images – warrior maiden, ‘Hopi’ maiden, olla maidens, grinding woman, bread maker, bow priest, corn maidens and even haloed angels. She is also well-known for her single and double frogs, domestic cats, rabbits, turtles, owls and bears.
Claudia’s images exhibit happiness, freedom and carefreeness – all a reflection of her own personality.
Mentors include maternal grandfather George Haloo CheeChee, maternal aunt Rosalia Quam and uncles Miguel and Ramie Haloo and her beloved deceased brother and original carving partner Colvin Peina. She has also mentored others, including most recently her husband Kal Kallestawa, an accomplished jeweller. Together working as a team, they are able to satisfy the huge demands for her designs, while he continues making his distinctive earrings and pendants.
When new ideas for carvings are offered to her, Claudia will spend a few moments in silence and then announces that, yes, she ‘sill give it a try’. She always succeeds and thus is born yet another innovative design by this most creative Zuni fetish carver.
Her most original and imaginative carvings are in elk antler. Claudia’s recent series of standing bears are known as ‘Good News Bears’, small figurines in a dozen or more poses and ‘attitudes’. They each bring joy to the beholder and are created with skill, speed and dexterity rarely seen among carvers.