David Gaussoin

Picuris Pueblo, Diné/Navajo

Curator David Gaussoin (Picuris, Diné/Navajo) is a metalsmith and fashion designer, as well as a social justice advocate.


Tribal Affiliations:

Artwork Affiliations:

David chose the following for the Grounded in Clay exhibit:

Anthony Durand micaceous  jar with lid

Anthony Durand | Picuris
Jar with lid
Micaceous clay
9¾ x 12½ in. (24.8 x 31.8 cm)
Collection School for Advanced Research

P’ah mo,lo,mõ

I have always been a huge fan of the late Anthony Durand, who was from my tribe, Picuris Pueblo. I believe he was our Pueblo’s equivalent of such eminent potters as Maria Martinez and Lucy Lewis.

Picuris pottery is created primarily for robust use; a vessel must be able to hold water, rather than exist simply for decorative purposes. My Picuris grandmother, Lydia Duran Tsosie, taught me that our pottery is made for functional use. We still use it every day for cooking, storage, and other utilitarian purposes. Moreover, Picuris pottery is intentionally made “plain” or with little decoration. In fact, at our Pueblo, when a work of art is beautiful or pretty, we say it is “ugly.” This is meant as a great compliment to the maker.

At our village, we are taught that the micaceous clay we use for pottery is a gift from the earth, and we must respect it and not waste it. Picuris pottery is typically made with very thin walls in comparison to the pottery of other tribes. Because our clay is so durable and strong, our pottery is able to be built this way and still be used for cooking and to hold water.

To me, this vessel not only is a beautiful work of art, but also represents a wonderful individual. I was fortunate to know Anthony Durand. He was a very kind and gentle person, always willing to share his knowledge with others.

One of my favorite memories of Durand is when I bought one of his p’ah mo,lo,ene, or water jars, from him. He was so very happy yet humble. I feel this is the best way to describe him. The shapes, forms, and final slips of his pottery are breathtaking. He will always be celebrated and cherished as one of the best Picuris Pueblo potters.