Birds of a
H x 8 1/2" D
One of the best-known potters
from the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico, Lois Gutierrez de
la Cruz learned pottery-making from her mother, Petra Montoya
Gutierrez. Her work revives but reinterprets polychrome (multi-colored)
decoration, which had almost disappeared at Santa Clara.
She and her husband, Derek
de la Cruz, make some of the most interesting pottery done in
any pueblo today. They generally make large polychrome jars that
frequently depict various aspects of traditional Pueblo life.
Using many colors, Lois does "paintings" on her pots
of Pueblo dances, scenes of everyday life, and occasionally wildlife.
Lois does the potting and
painting of the pots and Derek (who is Hispanic) helps with the
firing which is always done outdoors. It is also Derek who explores
the Espanola Valley looking for minerals used to make the many
colors of paints that give their pots their distinctive look.
Derek was quoted in Talking
With the Clay as saying, "If you look hard enough you
can find clay here and there all over the mountains, but you
got to look for it. It doesn't just jump out at you. It is beautiful
when you dig in it. The white clay looks like candy, white chocolate.
When you're digging in it, you don't want to stop, it feels so
Lois developed a very distinctive
slip - by adding white to dark gold clay to make a buff colored
background. Lois has said, "My favorite part is firing.
When it fires good, you know that your time and hard work has
been worth it."
In 1982, Lois and Derek won
the BEST OF SHOW award at Santa Fe Indian Market. The resulting
frenzied demand for their pottery so overwhelmed them that they
have never done another show. They maintain a very low profile
living a very traditional pueblo life.
Lois and Derek have pots in
several museum collections: The Smithsonian in Washington DC.;
the Museum of Man in San Diego; and the Amerind Foundation in
Their work has been widely
acclaimed in such prestigious forums as the Indian Market in
Santa Fe where they have won first place several times, and in
the collections of the Heard, Maxwell, and Southwest museums.
Lois is the sister of well
known potters Goldenrod (Gloria Garcia), Minnie Vigil and Thelma