Nambe Pueblo self-taught potter
Lonnie Vigil defines himself as a "PhD" in his field;
as an expert in micaceous clay pottery, he is pursuing a long-held
family tradition. Vigil won Best in Show at the 2001 Santa Fe
Indian Market, and hasn't looked back.
His spectacular micaceous
potteries reflect his artistic passion, and his deeply rooted
relationship to his Pueblo. Today, his pots are shown in museums
and collections and at various Indian markets.
"We are fortunate to
have clay in my village, and in our area. The mica is naturally
present in the clay from the beginning. I hand gather it, add
sand to it in order to make it workable, and let it dry in the
"There is collaboration
between the clay and myself -- the clay tells me what direction
to take. I let the pot dry in the house for a day or two, then
take it outside, and smooth the surface. My pots are traditional,
and I follow the techniques of my ancestors -- except for the
asymmetricals I have created. In the past, Pueblo people cooked
in clay, using pots for everything. It is not that common anymore;
they mostly use them for special occasions."
"I am inspired by my
great-grandmother, Perfilia Anaya Pena, who was a great potter.
She died the year I was born. My mother never did pottery, so
I learned on my own, and I love doing my work -- though I would
rather say "our" work, as it is not just me working,
but the whole family, by supporting me emotionally, physically,
providing the meals."
"That is how we make
our living. So even if I do not actually work with my family,
they help me. Also my ancestors, who gave me the ability to make
these creations. And unlike in western culture, we Pueblo,would
say "we," -- meaning my mother, siblings, cousins.
Because we all live together and interact on a daily basis, so
my work belongs to my village, as a collective art, from my Pueblo.
And it is vital that I maintain my work as a tradition in the
"I feel so happy that
this is my mission in life. I am thankful for our ancestors,
who gave us this marvelous tradition."