Books are my passion. I’m the illustrator of two books, Shaped By Her Hands and The First Woman Cherokee Chief, and served as art director and cover designer for dozens more. I’m particularly interested in literature for children and young adults, and I’m constantly adding to my extensive and well-loved collection of picture books.
The most renowned Native American Indian potter of her time, Maria Povika Martinez learned pottery as a child under the guiding hands of her ko-ōo, her aunt. She grew up to discover a new firing technique that turned her pots black and shiny, and made them—and Maria—famous. This inspiring story of family and creativity illuminates how Maria’s belief in sharing her love of clay brought success and joy from her New Mexico Pueblo to people all across the country.
Praise for Shaped By Her Hands
⭐ “Aphelandra, who has Oneida heritage, paints with the hues of the Rio Grande’s turquoise waters, orange pottery fires, pink sandstone sunsets, and the obsidian black clay of Maria’s pots; the result is earthy and elemental, containing the spirit of the New Mexican landscape…A deserved celebration of a famous Tewa potter who elevated her craft to fine art.” —Kirkus starred review
⭐ “Soft, colorful illustrations provide a sense of warmth and pay tribute to her lasting impact on her community and the world...Through masterful storytelling and graceful illustrations, this impactful title embodies Maria Povika Martinez’s famous words: ‘The Great Spirit gave me [hands] that work...but not for myself, for all Tewa people.’” —School Library Journal starred review
“Aphelandra adds vibrant, subtly textured spreads to this profile of an arts pioneer.” —Publishers Weekly
In 1985, Wilma Pearl Mankiller became the first woman Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. She had to convince her people that the chief should be the best person for the job, man or woman. Before the English came to what is now the United States, Cherokee women and men shared the leadership of the tribe. This created balance. But the English colonists told the Native People that men should be in charge. It stayed that way for many years, until Wilma Pearl Mankiller made history. She used the concept of gaduji, of everyone helping each other, to make the Cherokee Nation strong.
Cover Design & Art Direction