10 Elegant Jars by Nambe Pueblo Potter Lonnie Vigil
Nambe Pueblo self-taught potter Lonnie Vigil defines himself as a "PhD" in his field; as an expert in micaceous clay pottery, he is pursuing a long-held family tradition. Vigil won Best in Show at the 2001 Santa Fe Indian Market, and hasn't looked back. His spectacular micaceous potteries reflect his artistic passion, and his deeply rooted relationship to his Pueblo. Today, his pots are shown in museums and collections and at various Indian markets. For more images of his work, visit LonnieVigil.com.
Where do you find the mica clay?
We are fortunate to have clay in my village, and in our area. The mica is naturally present in the clay from the beginning. I hand gather it, add sand to it in order to make it workable, and let it dry in the sun.
What's your creative process?
There is collaboration between the clay and myself -- the clay tells me what direction to take. I let the pot dry in the house for a day or two, then take it outside, and smooth the surface. My pots are traditional, and I follow the techniques of my ancestors -- except for the asymmetricals I have created. In the past, Pueblo people cooked in clay, using pots for everything. It is not that common anymore; they mostly use them for special occasions.
What are your sources of inspiration?
I am inspired by my great-grandmother, Perfilia Anaya Pena, who was a great potter. She died the year I was born. My mother never did pottery, so I learned on my own, and I love doing my work -- though I would rather say "our" work, as it is not just me working, but the whole family, by supporting me emotionally, physically, providing the meals. That is how we make our living. So even if I do not actually work with my family, they help me. Also my ancestors, who gave me the ability to make these creations. And unlike in western culture, we Pueblo,would say "we," -- meaning my mother, siblings, cousins. Because we all live together and interact on a daily basis, so my work belongs to my village, as a collective art, from my Pueblo. And it is vital that I maintain my work as a tradition in the village. I feel so happy that this is my mission in life. I am thankful for our ancestors, who gave us this marvelous tradition.
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