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:

Picuris storage jar

Picuris storage jar
c. 1900–20
22 x 24 in. (55.9 x 61 cm)
Collection School for Advanced Research

Mo lo mõ—Ancient Resilience

When I was looking at all the beautiful pottery at SAR, this piece drew my attention. I am just in awe of this mo lo mõ,¹ made by my village of Picuris Pueblo. I would look at other pottery, but for some reason this jar kept bringing me back. Finally, I asked it, “Would you like to go on a trip? If you do, then you need to get permission from the staff to go.” I was so happy to hear that this vessel received permission to travel.²  I knew in my heart that it wanted another adventure to add to its journey. When I look at this elegant pot, I wonder, how was it used? Who made it? How did it survive its long journey? I am curious about the daily life of this piece. I wish I could have a conversation with it, to learn about its survival.

Recently, my sister, who works for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, brought some photographs of Picuris pottery back to our village. The pictures were from 1903– 1907; like this piece, they made me wonder about life back then. They showed villages and buildings that no longer exist physically but live on in our oral history and stories. It was nice to see physical evidence to back up this history and our tales of long ago.

Just like this handsome jar, the photographs showed how vibrant our community was, as well as how long we have survived and endured the many challenges placed in front of us. Although I can appreciate the delicate beauty of this piece, I can also see its strong resilience. Just like our village, people, and traditions, this mo lo mõ is the perfect embodiment of us. It has much to say, if people just take the time to listen and learn, and not rely only on physical evidence. We have always known our story of creation, survival, and endurance, and we will carry on as best we can.

¹Picuris for “pottery.”
² Note from SAR: Conservators examined each pot chosen for the exhibition to ensure that it was physically stable enough to travel.