Sunday, March 21, 2010

Heard @ The Heard 2010: Dominique Toya Making Jemez Pueblo Pottery Anything But Ordinary

"Now, I'm to the point where every pot has to be perfect, or else it's not presentable."--Dominique Toya, Jemez Pueblo potter

It’s hard not to like Jemez Pueblo pottery. I have more of it than from any other pueblo in New Mexico, mostly because it finds me, but also because I find they give me a lot of joy, just like all my Jemez "extended family" and friends do. Jemez is home to many potters, who work in a variety of styles, and are constantly creating their own new style. They are masters at finding something that will appeal to the collector. Fortunately for all collectors—from the wealthy seasoned ones, to the budget-conscious novice-- there is a price point for everyone!

Dominique Toya, who has been creating pottery since the age of 5 is a master potter. Her goal is to ensure that her own work gets better every day. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Dominique comes from a family of some of the best pueblo potters, including her mother, Maxine Toya, aunt, Laura Gachupin and grandmother, Marie Romero.

Dominique, who won “Best of Class” for her swirl vase at the 2009 SWAIA Indian Market, is credited with bringing her unique micaceous slip swirl pots to the forefront of the Jemez pottery tradition. Collectors have been taking notice, and prices for these works are steadily rising.  Dominique owes her inspiration to create the swirl pots to veteran Santa Clara potter Nancy Youngblood. Some try to imitate Dominique's pots, but when you have had the opportunity to handle one and see the skill and detail that goes into one, you will immediately be able to identify the real McCoy.

Just prior to the Heard Museum Guild’s Indian Fair and Market this year, I ran into Dominique at Andrews Pueblo Pottery and Art Gallery, who showed me pictures of the unfinished pot that she and Santa Clara potter Jody Naranjo were collaborating on for the show’s judging. Initially, the vessel, which is a very large swirl vase, was going to contain circles on all sides featuring the faces of famous potters. I was told by both artists that the Jemez clay was too soft for the faces to be effectively carved into the pot, which the two later titled “Double Insanity.” The two are hoping to collaborate on another similar idea utilizing Santa Clara clay, which will give the sgraffito work more clarity.

In the meantime, “Double Insanity” made its way to the judging table at the Heard. And while it didn’t win an award, it is quite interesting, and most importantly, represents the first collaboration of Toya and Naranjo, who have been friends for many years.  They are currently in talks about working on a couple of projects together.

I had the chance to speak with Dominique on camera about the joint work at the 2010 Heard Museum Guild’s Indian Fair and Market. Check out what she had to say HERE.


ellen said...

Hi, Uncle Paulie, I have been enjoying your blog very much, especially the "Road to Indian Market" series, and I thank you for sharing your exploring and learning with us, and for exposing us to so many fabulous artists!
I am a recent "addict," a self-taught pottery fanatic, and revere some of the same artists you have covered. And it's been wonderful to learn about so many new ones, as well!
Your pot collection sounds marvelous! My own is new and small, and I do love it so . . . Who knew the earth could exert such a siren song? Well, I guess these artists always knew!

Many thanks for your posts,

Paul Niemi said...

Ellen--I'm so glad you are enjoying the series! It means a lot to me to get such nice comments from people who are passionate about art and understand that I do this all for the love of it. Thanks!