Friday, April 6, 2012

A Consummate Potter - Robert Tenorio of the Santo Domingo (Kewa) Pueblo

Water Vessel by Santo Domingo Puebloan Potter Robert Tenorio
Santo Domingo (Kewa) potter Robert Tenorio (b. 1950) is a globally recognized consummate master of Native American pottery.   He began his illustrious career making stew bowls for his mother to use, soon thereafter, other women in his pueblo were asking for them.   Robert had early training in traditional pottery making from both his grandmother and great aunt complemented by academic instruction in ceramic arts at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe.   

Robert is inspired by history and heritage and he adheres tenaciously to the methods of his Puebloan forbearers.  He uses only natural materials and fires his wares, made from local clay digs, outdoors with curing heat produced by burning cottonwood bark.  He hand picks native plants to boil for making paints.   He is also known for producing some of the largest pieces of contemporary pueblo pottery.   

Robert Tenorio has been quoted as saying "...I'd rather see my pots being used, so I still make stew bowls and water jugs that you can actually use and wash. I try to keep my prices reasonable because I do not spend any money on materials. It comes from the earth and I have to share it. We ’re all striving for life, and pottery is bringing me and my family life. I feel I was put in this world to revive Santo Domingo pottery. And now that I've done that I feel good about it. I'm content. Everybody living will go, but my pots will stay here on this earth forever."

Flat View of 'Robert Tenorio's Water Vessel

Illustration of Puebloan Pottery Water Vessel from Report to the Smtihsonian Institute, circa 1879