I Stand in the Center of the Good: Interviews with Contemporary Native American Artists

By Lawrence Abbott | Go to book overview
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Nora Naranjo-Morse

Santa Clara

Nora Naranjo-Morse's studio is home to spirits in the process of birth. Bits of clay, moist coils, nascent forms, and finished pieces, standing and hung, are spread throughout her workspace, which is in front of her home in the Santa Clara Pueblo, less than an hour north of Santa Fe.

The studio is a microcosm of her work in clay, mirroring the stages that she follows in developing a piece, and is a clear instance of what Stephen Trimble meant when he wrote: "Potters live in the present; they don't hoard the past." 1 Decidedly contemporary sculptures, fetishes, masks, and clay hangings stand on the floor and adorn the walls and corners of the studio. But even though the imagery is not what comes to mind when Santa Clara pottery is mentioned, Naranjo‐ Morse still maintains a strong connection to tradition, from digging her clay to filtering it, fashioning it, and firing it. It is her relationship to the clay which places her squarely in the Santa Clara tradition.

Naranjo-Morse was born in Espanola, New Mexico, in 1953, but spent her early life at Taos, where her father, Michael Naranjo, served as a Baptist missionary for nearly three decades. She left Taos at sixteen, but her time there has much to do with the unique look of her work and her use of micaceous clay. Earlier pieces, like A

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