Loretto, who is from the village of Walatowa (Jemez Pueblo) and Cochiti Pueblo, first took up silversmithing, learning to make jewelry at the knee of his older brother, Phil. He also did inlay work for several jewelry companies and shops on the Santa Fe Plaza.
At about 17, Loretto turned to pottery making, “more out of desperation than anything.” He was living with a sister at the time and “needed food and money for rent — and it takes a lot of money to buy materials for jewelry-making.”
He has always thought of clay work, Loretto said, as “keeping me grounded because it’s all natural. It’s not like you are using all kinds of acids and stuff like that to create something.”
In 2005 Jonathan was awarded a Goodman Fellowship from the Wheelwright Museum. He used the funds to travel to Mata Ortiz to further his skills and knowledge of pottery making, particularly with regard to slips and firing methods. The month at Mata Ortiz stimulated his creative energies. Because Jonathan is also talented as a jeweler, he began to incorporate his inlay skills with his pottery which resulted in some very imaginative pieces. Work from this period included fruitful collaborations with several of the Mata Ortiz potters. In 2011 Jonathan collaborated with Graciella Gallegos for their annual show in Mata Ortiz.
Jonathan Loretto is the son of Snowflake Flower (Stephanie Rhoades) who is well-known for her figurative pottery. Snowflake Flower’s sister is Ada Suina.
Jonathan was educated at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he studied Photography for two years. He also attended Southwestern Indian Polytechnical Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico and studied Culinary Arts for two years. Jonathan worked for Ralph Lauren, designing and making concho belts for his Concho Belt Collection, which Oprah Winfrey wore on the cover of “O” magazine.