Monica Silva Lovato

San Felipe, Kewa/Santo Domingo

Curator Monica Silva Lovato is a fourth-generation traditional potter and a third-generation silversmith from the Pueblos of San Felipe and Kewa/Santo Domingo. A multimedia artist, she focuses on traditional pottery integrated with silverwork to create custom contemporary pieces. Her work explores the concept of trace and the connections across generations, as she aims to begin conversations that will help support young potters on their own journey. She is currently pursuing a BFA in Studio Arts with emphasis in Ceramics from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe.


Tribal Affiliations:

Artwork Affiliations:

Monica chose the following for the Grounded in Clay exhibit:

Dough bowl

Monica Silva | Kewa/Santo Domingo
Dough bowl
c. 1920–40
Clay and paint
8½ x 17 in. (21.6 x 43.2 cm)
Collection Vilcek Foundation

Matriarchal Directive

I remember hands, slightly smaller than mine. A black-and-white necklace and a woman’s voice. She was scolding me for not getting it right after what seemed like the hundredth time of showing me.

The smell of slip filled the adobe-walled room; its color filled my vision. The polished clay was cool to the touch as I floated the pigment across its surface.

In her mind, there was no drawing for practice; you simply made the design on the pot. Perfection was not necessary in her time in the way it is in mine.

I spent two years doodling the design from my dream in the margins of my notebooks, not knowing what it was for or when I would use it, but not wanting to forget the gift I had been given. It took me two years and four months until I created the right bowl that demanded I use this design.

When I visited SAR to select my pottery, I did not expect to see “my” design staring up at me from a photograph on the table.¹ I said, “That one, that’s my design.” The picture made my choice for me. I turned the photo over and saw a handwritten annotation: “Attributed to Monica Silva by Robert Tenorio.” Monica Silva, my great-grandmother; that was the moment my dream made sense to me.

1 Note from SAR: While pottery from the SAR collection was chosen in person, it was not possible to ship the entire Vilcek pottery collection to SAR for writers to select from, so high resolution images were initially provided.