Jemez Pueblo potter Kathleen Wall is perhaps one of the most featured artists on my blog, and for good reason--she's fabulously talented! Her koshare clown sculptures and realistic portraits of Pueblo people in clay make people smile as well as astound. For any artist, their mood or the place at which they are in their life dictates the work, and Kathleen is no exception. Every single piece she makes is different, regardless of similiarity in tone, color, or subject matter. They also reflect the people in her life, whether it's her little sister Julia or one of her three children. The Wall piece that I acquired earlier this year is a combined portrait of her sister and her youngest boy, Jesse. For me, the added pleasure of the piece is knowing whom I'm looking at every time I steal a glance. For the first month of having him in my home, I scarcely had the desire to sleep because I just wanted to stay up and keep looking at him to enjoy the sculpture's marvelous energy. I'm quite certain that for faithful collectors of her work, the feeling is the same.
Wall, who is an alumnus of IAIA (Institute of American Indian Arts) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been participating in SWAIA Indian Market since she was twenty-four years-old. She's now in her late thirties. She has been a well-recognized artist since she was in her mid-teens, and her recognition has brought much success to the other members of her family, who are all artists as well.
All the success, though, has never changed Wall's attitude about life and art. She is still the down-to-earth, no-nonsense artist, who has kept the same rituals year after year as she prepares to bring her beautiful creations to Indian Market. Last month, I had the opportunity to stop by her Jemez studio, an old Pueblo house that her late grandfather built on the reservation, to talk to her about what it takes for Kathleen Wall to make it down the road to Indian Market. Wall talked to me openly about the things that mark the season for her and how Market has changed how she works and lives her life. She also gave a full demonstration of the koshare-making process, which I found fascinating. It was as if I was in the maternity ward of a hospital and had the chance to see where and how Wall "gave birth" to the piece that I cherish as one of the most special pieces of art in my collection. There's also a peek into the creation of her Indian Market submission pieces, which may just make their way into bronze in the coming months.
For collectors, who may not be aware of the entire pottery-making process, or those who simply will not be able to stop by her Indian Market booth (#224 PAL) this year, I fondly make my interview with Wall available HERE: