press releases

Contemporary Pueblo Women Artists: Inspiration and the Creative Process

Mar 21, 2008

Three renowned New Mexico Pueblo women artists will discuss their work on Sunday, March 30 at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in conjunction with the Center’s ongoing exhibition, “Timeless Beauty: Pueblo Women Artists of the 20th Century.”

Tammy Garcia (Santa Clara), Estelle Loretto (Jemez) and Nora Naranjo-Morse (Santa Clara) will present how their own work is influenced by and has evolved from the foundation of the eight Pueblo women artists who are featured in the Timeless Beauty show. All three women, are award-winning artists and recognized as innovators in their respective mediums consisting of a wide variety of work created from elements such as clay, glass and bronze and more.

Timeless Beauty features the work of Maria Martinez (San Ildefonso) Lucy Lewis (Acoma), Pablita Velarde (Santa Clara), Tonita Peña (San Ildefonso) Margaret Tafoya (Santa Clara) Helen Hardin (Santa Clara) Helen Cordero (Cochiti) and Blue Corn (San Ildefonso).

An element of the Timeless Beauty show highlights quotes made by Garcia, Loretto and Naranjo-Morse including other Pueblo women artists that pay tribute to their predecessors. A reflection by Naranjo-Morse says, “The thread of culture and a strong sense of self are profoundly articulated through the work of these women. They were the storytellers of their time, expressing their unique life with clay, form and color. Their artistic certainty and bravery forged new ground and made it possible for succeeding generations to tell their story.”

The next presentation in conjunction with Timeless Beauty will take place on Sunday, May 18 at 1 p.m. titled, “Beauty’s Legacy - Families of Pueblo Women Artists.”

All presentations are open to the public and free with admission.


Garcia’s work can be considered both contemporary yet traditional in imagery, motifs, and subject matter. In her pottery, Tammy Garcia's carvings are particularly bold, deep, and sharply defined. In a recent exhibition featuring her bronze sculptural work at Santa Fe’s Museum of Indian Art and Culture, visitors observed that her work draws “ heavily on the values [she] learned from [her] parents and pueblo elders as well as [her] feminine side to create works that make a clear statement of what it is to be a pueblo woman and an artist working beyond the boundaries of so called "traditional" Native American women's art.” Tammy is best known for taking traditional pottery to new levels and pushing the envelope on what might be considered sculptural abstractions of Pueblo pottery. In recent years, she is experimenting with other media, such as glass and bronze, partly by collaborating with other artists.

Thirty-seven-year-old Garcia is a pioneer in raising the awareness of Southwest Indian art. Her work transcends the labels and expectations of "native" art through her innovation and risk-taking. In this respect, she is indeed an artistic descendant of some of the earliest pioneering Pueblo women artists.

Loretto endeavors to balance her Pueblo background with the many influences she has met with in travels around the world. As she says in an artists’ statement,” The experience of interacting and living with other tribal peoples throughout the world has broadened my artistic and cultural appreciation which continues to inspire me daily.” Her exposure to the diversity of art forms has inspired her to explore new forms of creative expression in various mediums.

Estella is the only Native American woman sculpting monumental work in bronze. Allan Houser's last student before his death in 1994, she now works from her own studio-gallery in Santa Fe, where she is recognized as an international renowned artist is her own right.

Nora Naranjo-Morse spent most of her childhood in Taos Pueblo where she graduated from high school. Today, Naranjo-Morse is an acclaimed multimedia artist and filmmaker. Nora learned clay work from her mother, potter Rose Naranjo, and was for some time best known for her clay figures. Her figures often personified her social commentary on contemporary Anglo and Indian lifestyles, and won several top awards at Indian Market. More recently she also creates bronze sculpture and multi-media installations.

Her work has been exhibited throughout the country, and is in collections at the Heard Museum, the Museum of Northern Arizona, the Albuquerque Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution. In addition to these accomplishments, Nora is a video producer and a writer, and has published several volumes of poetry. She was a Katrin H. Lamon Fellow at the School of American Research (1988-89), and in 2000 she was awarded the Dubin Fellowship at the Indian Arts Research Center, also at SAR in Santa Fe. She was recently named winner of the NMAI's outdoor sculpture design competition with a piece that will be installed at the museum in 2007.

An environmental landscape, Numbe Whageh (Our Center Place) was commissioned by The Albuquerque Museum, to provide a Native response to 500-year observance of Don Juan de Oñate's arrival in New Mexico.

Naranjo-Morse participated in the Te Mata Gathering, an arts festival held in 2005 at the Toimairangi School of Maori Visual Culture in New Zealand and in 2003 she received an Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art from the Eiteljorg Museum. Naranjo-Morse's most recent video works have looked at the creation of art and people's relationship to art.

Contact: Tazbah McCullah, email or call (505) 724-3519