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Lorraine Gala Lewis

“With clay, you're actually giving life to it by creating your own piece of pottery; this becomes a part of you, and everything you touch and create has a purpose.”


“I began my art career at the Institute of American Indian Arts (high school and college) and the College of Santa Fe studying various art forms. At IAIA, I was very fortunate to work with artists/instructors Ralph Pardington, Otellie Loloma (Hopi) and Manuelita Lovato (Santo Domingo). In 1987, I began working with renowned Hopi potter Nathan Begaye. While in high school, I began participating in local art shows, primarily the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Art Market and the Santa Fe Indian Market; this became an opportunity to experiment and learn new techniques. As a clay artist, I’ve always enjoyed working with traditional and non-traditional forms of clay. When I began to work with Nathan, he mentored me in the traditional style of pottery and I began to incorporate figurative form into my work.


A turning point came later in my career when I was introduced to western artist, Bill Freeman (1927-2013), who collected and studied Indigenous pottery cultures throughout the world. Bill’s friendship, knowledge and expertise inspired me to learn about Pre-Columbian art forms. I delved into this and began collecting materials, visiting museums and viewing private collections, focusing on works dating from 850-1200 AD. Studying these early art forms led to rediscovering our ancestral lands; these visits enhanced my creativity. The stories of our early paintings, petroglyphs and rock carvings made me pay closer attention to detail. The work is a true reflection of self: what was felt by that individual at that time in the environment. There was a continuous cycle of creating. Our earliest potters captured expression in distinctive shape and form. The evolution of work was a reflection of the archaeological changes in lifestyle during periodic phases. This is detailed in usage of composition and design. Techniques became more refined and increasingly sophisticated which really captured my attention.


I share these re-creations with respect in hope of preserving a pottery culture that existed hundreds of years ago. Through conservation, there is a need to educate and teach others on the care and appreciation of our natural and cultural resources. With these replications, I try to capture the aesthetic beauty and individuality of each piece and remain as close as I can to the original works of art.


Our ancient ones gave us a glimpse into their perspective of everyday life and traditions. I title my work, ‘Visions From Our Past’, and dedicate these pieces to our earliest teachers, the true masters of pueblo pottery.”

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