Dora Tse Pe
x 4" D
Although a Zia by birth, Dora
married into the San Ildefonso Pueblo, bringing with her some
of her Zia shapes. However, most of her pottery reflects the
San Ildefonso styles.
She was one of the first to
add the idea of a turquoise inset, an innovation by her, Popovi
Da and Toni Da. She was also one of the first to use the refiring
techniques that create the sienna duotone rims and feature spots.
Dora is truly one of the great contemporary Indian potters.
"Everything I learned
while growing up at Zia applies to life at San Ildefonso. However,
pottery, clay and style are somewhat different between the two
Pueblos. I adapted with help of my former/late mother-in-law,
Rose Gonzales, a well-known potter of San Ildefonso Pueblo.
"My mother, Candelaria
Gachupin, was one of Zia Pueblo's most outstanding potters. My
first experience with my mother's clay was when I was about six
years old. She taught be the sacredness of clay. All have spiritual
significance. I treat my clay with much respect."
Now Dora travels all over
the country for shows and demonstrations and entertains workshop
groups at her home on the pueblo. "I love to carve. I do
some new things, but I will never get away from carving altogether.
Some artists do crazy things. I won't," declares Dora, who
has filled her home with traditional pots made by her mother
at the Zia Pueblo.
Dora's innovation in claywork
- she sees her work as an extension of traditional pottery making
- to combine various colored clays in the same piece, for instance,
polished red clay combined with dull-surfaced, gold-flecked micaceous
clay, or red polished clay combined with dull black and micaceous
clays, or other combinations she works out. Micaceous clay, used
years ago for functional pots by many different Indian cultures,
is now being revived for its exciting orange and gold colors;
Dora has accepted the challenge of finding the clay and working
She also adds turquoise and
coral to accent her deep carving technique or to mark a change
of clay color on a pot. Dora complains that her galleries and
collectors call her work "contemporary Indian." Dora
dislikes the term because she considers herself traditional;
she claims to be unaware of the path she is forging.