Who's Your Tribe? - Artist Jeff Fulkerson

Artist Jeff Fulkerson

Who’s Your Tribe?

I love tribal stuff.  I love African Adinkra symbols. I love rock art & petroglyphs. I love the Scottish Clans, Native Americans, and Japanese Samurai.  Though very different, the one thing that all of these things have in common is that they represent belonging.

In our hectic society today, we’ve lost a sense of belonging.  You hear people say they want to go back to the good old days.  What they’re really saying is they want that time when they felt safe and were a part of something.  Small town American, where everybody knew everybody and you knew where you fit it.  It gives us security, knowing we belong.

Humanity has long used symbols to convey meanings, thoughts, concepts and membership.  When you see certain symbols, you know what group someone belongs to.  A contemporary example is street gangs with colors and gang signs.  It shows belonging.  I once had a kid tell me he joined a gang because it was safer than his home…  We’ll do anything to belong.

Jewelry can be a powerful symbol of our tribe.  The American Southwest tribes used to have very distinctive jewelry styles.  If you saw a piece that was overlay, you knew it was Hopi.  Inlay was Zuni. Somewhere in the ‘late ‘60’s early ‘70’s those lines got blurred (as did a lot of things…) but you still knew it was Native American.

I have a line of jewelry I call ‘Longings’ that uses a lot of symbolism from the stones, fossil dinosaur bone, Jade, lace agate that are mostly earth-tones to petroglyphs and Adinkra symbols.  Each piece evokes that tribal feel and longing to belong. 

So who’s your tribe?  How do you show you’re a member of that tribe?  I express my tribe by wearing jewelry that is meaningful to me.