Jason Garcia

Tewa/Santa Clara Pueblo

Curator Jason Garcia/Okuu Pin (Tewa/Santa Clara Pueblo) is a potter, ceramicist, printmaker, painter, father, son, brother, uncle, and an alumnus of the universities of New Mexico and Wisconsin.


Tribal Affiliations:

Artwork Affiliations:

Jason chose the following for the Grounded in Clay exhibit:

Helen Shupla melon bowl

Helen Naranjo Shupla | Santa Clara
Before 1985
5 ⅛ x 8 ¾ in. (13 x 22.2 cm)

Melon Bowl

As I looked at the list of Santa Clara Pueblo (SCP) work previously chosen for this project, I noticed that melon bowls, a classic SCP shape, were not yet represented. The process of making this unique pottery form is incredibly difficult. As the pot or bowl is formed and shaped using the coil method, the ribs are pushed out from the inside of the vessel, creating the ribbed “melon” effect on both the interior and exterior. My paternal great-grandmother, Severa Tafoya, was fond of creating melon shapes, and passed on this appreciation to her daughter Angela Baca.

In the SAR collection, I located three bowls and one wedding vase with melon-shaped bodies, all of them created by Helen Shupla of SCP. The pots vary in color, from red to natural clay and black, and each was highly polished before undergoing the traditional outdoor firing process. The melon shape is a signature of Helen Shupla’s work.

When I was growing up in SCP, Helen and her husband, Kenneth (Hopi), were neighbors. Their grandson and I often played at each other’s houses, and I recall many times going to their home and seeing them constantly working on pottery. I know that my own passion for creativity was inspired by watching the various stages of pottery-making and by witnessing their work ethic, laughter, and love for the clay.