Ray Garcia

San Felipe Pueblo

Curator Ray Garcia, aka “Ray Duck,” is a jeweler and one of very few San Felipe potters. He loves working with other artists and sharing ideas.


Tribal Affiliations:

Artwork Affiliations:

Ray chose the following for the Grounded in Clay exhibit:

Candelaria Montano jar

Candelaria Montaño | San Felipe
Clay and paint
7½ x 9 in. (19.1 x 22.9 cm)
Collection School for Advanced Research

Remember the Past and Carry to the Future

I chose this piece because it is one of just a few pieces from San Felipe Pueblo in the SAR collection. Around the country, there is so little San Felipe pottery in any museum, and I wanted to make sure my community was included in this exhibition. This jar is by Candelaria Montaño, who was a prolific potter. Unlike most potters of her day, her works can be found in several museum collections, including the Heard Museum in Phoenix and Arizona State Museum in Tucson, and in private collections as far away as The Netherlands.

My first memories of clay are of learning from my grandmother how to collect and process it, and then how to make pottery. Making pottery from scratch is not an easy task, and few people learn the entire process. But once I learned, it became a part of me. I feel that this is real pottery-making. Anyone who calls themselves a potter should be familiar with this process.

I served in the United States Navy, and working with clay is therapy for me because it helps keep me calm and focused on my artwork and my life. My relationship with pottery and clay is inherent in my work. Working with different kinds of clay to make  pottery helps me appreciate my past and my roots, as has my study of this jar.

A few years ago, I was a participant in the San Felipe Pottery Project, in which several San Felipe potters came together at SAR to raise awareness of our pottery. It is important that our pottery is passed down to future generations, and I am proud that my daughter, Monica Silva Lovato, is now also a potter. Pottery is the link to our past as Pueblo people, even though contemporary pottery pieces have evolved into “art.” We as Pueblo people use pottery as a way of life, for everyday use and for ceremonies. Pottery helps me connect with the people who came before me; they are now gone, but they live on through my own pottery.