press releases


Jul 03, 2008

Contact: Colleen Franco
Phone: 505-414-4748
Images available on request



WASHINGTON (June 23, 2008) — Beyond Tradition: The Pueblo Pottery of Tammy Garcia, the first major museum exhibition on the East coast of this Santa Clara artist, will take place at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The exhibition features a selection of elaborately carved post and will be on view in the Teresa Lozano Long Gallery on the ground floor from August 22, 2008–February 3, 2009.

“This is not your grandmother’s pottery. Tammy Garcia is one of the most recognized figures in Southwestern ceramics and we are fortunate to be able to exhibit her work,” said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “Over the past decade, she has reinterpreted traditional Pueblo pottery and folded it into mainstream contemporary art. Her intricate design work and experimental shapes have driven the art of pottery into the twenty-first century and set her apart from her contemporaries.”

Garcia was born into a famous dynasty of potters from the Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico, that boasts four generations of artists, including Serafina Tafoya, regarded as one of the finest Pueblo potters in its matriarchal history. Garcia learned the basics of pottery from watching her mother, Linda Cain, and grandmother, Mary Cain, at work. She sold her first pot at age sixteen. The experience, coupled with an unrewarding stint as a dishwasher, convinced her that pottery was her calling.


Garcia’s innovation is her ability to infuse a two-thousand year old tradition with modern concepts of design and form. She carves her pots by etching the entire surface of the vessel, as opposed to a single-band of design along the circumference. On each of her pots, Garcia then signs “Santa Clara Pueblo,” referencing her artistic heritage. This signature indicates where she comes from, what process she uses, and where her materials and tools are made.

Garcia’s imagery also marries the old with the new. While she draws from classic Pueblo motifs, such as Corn Dancers, koshares (Pueblo clowns), and anasazi (ancient geometric patterns), she also incorporates non-traditional sources and often seeks contemporary and popular inspiration for her pots. For example, it is not surprising to see images of mermaids or opera singers in her work.

“There is a certain thrill to creating art that is indefinable and pushes the boundaries of traditional pottery,” said Garcia.

Beyond Tradition: The Pueblo Pottery of Tammy Garcia is organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts and generously sponsored by an Anonymous donor, the New Mexico State Committee of NMWA, and the Members of NMWA.

NMWA at 20

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), founded in 1981 and opened in April 1987, is the only museum solely dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in the visual, performing and literary arts. The museum contains works by more than 800 artists in its permanent collection, maintains a Library and Research Center, and conducts multidisciplinary programs for diverse audiences. In the past 20 years since its opening, the museum has presented more than 200 exhibitions, expanded its permanent collection to include more than 3,600 pieces, and has a membership ranking it in the top ten museums nationally with more than 30,000 members. In celebration of the museum’s 20th anniversary, three ground-breaking exhibits were presented: The Book as Art: Twenty Years of Artists’ Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Italian Women Artists from the Renaissance to Baroque, and WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution. The museum has also inaugurated Clara: Database of Women Artists®, a Web-accessible, authoritative resource for students, scholars and the general public. NMWA is located at 1250 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., in a landmark building near the White House. It is open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday, noon–5 p.m. For information, call 202-783-5000 or visit the museum’s Web site at