Ysleta del Sur Pueblo
Curator Albert Alvidrez is a former Governor of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and a tribal potter, artist, historian, pottery collector, mentor, leader, and community activist.
Albert chose the following for the Grounded in Clay exhibit:
This special bowl could not be photographed or displayed, but another beautiful bowl from Isleta stands in its place in the exhibition to hold space for it.
I waited patiently, hidden in the folds of our mother, listening to the winds as they swept through the arroyo, carrying prayers, voices, and grains of earth to many places. With every sunrise, the voices got louder and I could feel the change in climate. The day finally arrived when the sacred water unearthed my being. Like a sleeping frog tucked carefully in the earth until the scent and touch of moisture soften the soil, I continued to wait. The cooling breeze caused a tide of goosebumps as it gently caressed my body. At that very moment, I knew my ancestors were by my side. The years spent in Mother Earth gave me a chance to collect my thoughts, write my song, and embrace the opportunity to carry out my path.
Along an arroyo near Ohkay Owingeh, I was able to attract the attention of a passerby, who greeted me with much excitement and amazement. These human hands took me to their home. That evening I was given a new resting place. My finder spoke eagerly to others I could not see but could hear in the distance. In the days that followed, he examined my body, gently tapping my rim, holding me up to the light; inch by inch, he documented my character. I did not know what he was in search of, because the voice and words were foreign. Encouraged by his curiosity, I gleamed and showcased all my natural features to ensure that he would notice the beauty within me and the people of which I was a part. With every angle and observation, I could feel his excitement growing.
My finder, knowledgeable about New Mexico landscapes, flipped through sheets of paper and looked at photographs of relatives near and far until, finally, and with much exhilaration, he understood my origins. I was glad that my color, shape, design, and composition reunited me with my Isleta family. Contemplation began: how did I travel, who took me, what was my purpose? We are made from the earth and shaped by the skills and teachings of our ancestors. We have prayers embedded in our being that give us strength to go forward. I am a reminder, a reflection, a representation of a beautiful people whose landscape has been changed by many encounters over the years; whose will, skill, and determination have been tested by many outside influences and obstacles forced upon our path. Many wished we would cease to exist, but these outside influences were not aware that our bodies have the breath of our ancestors, and that their prayers and everlasting seeds give us strength to continue.
Our journey teaches us to be patient, that we must rest and let time travel, but when we emerge, we go forward with enthusiasm, grace, and focus. Today, I join my clay brothers and sisters gathered to reflect on our journey, share our song, and sow seeds of hope and encouragement for all those who encounter us. Our pottery voices remain resilient and continue to be heard.