the Governor's Arts Award Winners

Kathleen Wall

Jemez Pueblo

2021 recipient, Visual Artist

For nearly 40 years - first as a child learning Jemez Pueblo clay traditions from her mother and aunts, then as a ceramic and visual artist creating her own path - Kathleen Wall has moved into the front ranks of New Mexico Native artists. She will be the Featured Artist for the 2021 Institute of American Indian Arts (IAlA) Gala and was named the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC) 2020-21 Native Treasures Living Treasure, with a solo exhibition of her work at MIAC. Those honors follow numerous awards and exhibitions, at distinguished venues like Santa Fe Indian Market, Heard Museum Indian Market (Phoenix), Eiteljorg Museum (Indiana), Yale University Art Gallery, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (Albuquerque), and the Smithsonian Institution. Near and far, Kathleen's work has sparked admiration, joy, and pride for the attention she brings to her family, Pueblo, and culture.

Family, Pueblo, and Native culture are fundamental sources of Wall's works in clay, bronze, and acrylics. She has taken the clay Storyteller figures that Pueblos like Jemez and Cochiti traditionally created and put her own distinctive stamp on them by using Koshari clown figures like those who enliven Pueblo dances throughout New Mexico. These signature figures convey a profound sense of joy in their faces; they light up her booth at Indian Market, homes of patrons nationwide who purchase her work, and museums that hold them in permanent collections. More importantly, they represent the spiritual strength of her people at Jemez and the larger Native community.

Recently, while honored with the Eric and Barbara Dobkin Native Artist Fellowship at the School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, Wall created new works that emphasized who she is and where she comes from. With imaginative design and technical mastery, she combined clay figures - a female dancer, her grandfather, her son - with acrylic paintings of Jemez landscapes, places that provide the figures' traditional names. Human forms arise from and blend into the natural world, emphasizing the importance of indigenous places, and languages. Her artistic program includes future works that focus on other Native peoples and places.

Kathleen's sense of community is profound. She has led pottery workshops at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the Poeh Center in Pojoaque, and the Heard Museum, conveying many of the lessons she learned from the women in her family. She has contributed her artwork to auctions for the Cancer Foundation for New Mexico, Futures for Children, IAIA, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, and others. Those efforts combined with the quality of her work have led to widespread coverage by print, television, radio, and online media. All of this attention benefits not just Kathleen; her Pueblo, Native arts, and New Mexico itself are held forward like one of her Kosharis offering a beautiful child, a fallen star, or basket of watermelons.