Paula “Shell” Nelson- Uyasga

Paula is a multimedia/multitalented artist who works in many genres. An enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, she resides in the Kolanvyi community of Cherokee and is quasi-retired from a 25+ year career as a Living History Educator, specializing in Southeastern Native Americans and the Archaic, Mississippian, and Woodland periods. Her interest and studies of these times have cultivated her interest in primitive clothing and accouterments. As seen in Paula’s work, primitive does not mean crude but rather represents the first.

Paula who is known as Shell, is dedicated to learning history and her path of study continues. As a Primitive Jeweler, Paula works with shell, sticks, stone, bone, and minerals. Most of what she creates with is found/reaped from the natural world and then shaped and sculpted by Paula. Using her knowledge of the past, Shell creates works that resemble or represent the love she has for her people’s older customs, traditions, and ancient ways of living life, dressing, and bodily adornment.

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Some of Shell’s newest work: