the Governor's Arts Award Winners

Jodi Naranjo

Santa Clara Pueblo

2018 recipient, Artist, Ceramics, Bronze and Glass

Jody Naranjo, who comes from a long tradition of Tewa potters and artists from Santa Clara Pueblo, knew from the time she was eight that a life as an artist was in her future. "She has always embraced art and pottery making in her life - carrying on the traditions of her family and her Pueblo," said Leroy Garcia, owner of Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe. "She honors tradition through much of the process, yet she does not let that tradition keep her from freely expressing herself creatively." Naranjo is credited with having re-envisioned tradition, and in the process redefining the standard for contemporary Native pottery. "She is not afraid to push beyond the conventional treatment of Tewa pottery," Garcia said. "Her forays into bronze sculpture and glass have demonstrated her ability to challenge herself beyond the limitations and safety of one medium." Naranjo "has had a profound impact on the evolution of the Pueblo pottery making tradition while continuously challenging her creativity and pushing boundaries in the world of Native American art," said Brian Vallo, director of the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research. Naranjo herself said: "Tradition is always going to be evolving." Threads between past and present are both tangible and figurative in Naranjo's process, from hand-digging clay to the final touch of a tool upon a piece's surface. Before wood-firing in an outdoor pit, sometimes smothered with cow manure to achieve a darkened surface, Naranjo burnishes her pots with a riverbed stone passed down from her great-great-grandmother. Naranjo said many potters would be finished after the firing but for her that is just the beginning. She said about 80 percent of her work is in the intricate carving that takes place post-firing. She "gets a feel for the piece at that point," treating it as a blank canvas for etching symbols, geometric designs, and the gestural animal and human forms for which she is recognized. "A lot of us are discovering ourselves in our art," Naranjo said. Naranjo approaches her art-making in a joyful way. "This joyful optimism comes through in each of Jody's art pieces," said Garcia. "The lighthearted whimsy that she brings to every design is a hallmark of her style." Russell Sanchez, who received a governor's arts award for pottery in 2017, said Naranjo's pottery "brings such joy to all who view it." Naranjo has received numerous awards and honors, including first place in pottery at the Santa Fe Indian Market in 2011. She has been the artist-in-residence at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Arts and in 2007 she won Best of Show at the Eiteljorg's Indian Market. Naranjo was designated as the 2017 Museum of Indian Arts and Culture's Living Treasure and Featured Artist. "Moreover, Jody has maintained her connections with her home community," said Dr. Robert Martin, president of the Institute of American Indian Arts, which Naranjo attended in the late 1980s. Naranjo "embodies IAIA's mission of art as a traditional pathway to creativity and leadership," Martin said.