Curator Ulysses Reid is proud to represent the Pueblo of Zia and all that it stands for: sun symbol, language, culture, and song and dance. He is honored to be part of a long history of potters, and appreciates all who have supported him as an artist.
Ulysses chose the following for the Grounded in Clay exhibit:
I chose these vessels because they are part of my community and, by extension, my family. One was made by my great-grandmother Reyes Galvan. Strikingly similar design sketches were left behind by my grandfather, and I am reminded of how these water jars came to be.
Dwight Lanmon believed the other jar was made by Isabel Medina Toribio, while Rick Dillingham was of the opinion that it is by Vincentita Salas.¹ Although I greatly admire the pottery of both women (their vessels were always incredibly smooth, both inside and out), based on conversations with elders and my own research, I believe this jar to be the work of Trinidad Medina. According to Sofia and Lois Medina, Trinidad was known for the rows of dots on her pottery, which would later remind her of the skyscrapers she saw during her travels to Chicago for the 1933 World’s Fair.
The process of firing pottery is very challenging. The circumstances of a pot’s creation and of its surface-firing must be nearly perfect to ensure the vessel can withstand the stress. So much time and care are invested in creating pottery, and an imperfect firing can literally make or break a piece. Trinidad’s pot was beautifully fired, as indicated by the perfect fusion of clay and paint. My great-grandmother’s piece was unintentionally low-fired.² As a result, over time, much of the paint has worn off. The high-quality build of her pot remains, however, and the jar can still be used as intended.
When I create pottery, it is common for me to invest two weeks or more in a piece. Pottery is an important way of life for Pueblo people, and I am proud to be a part of a resilient and strong community. Pottery’s strength is evidenced by its permanent presence through time. This permanence means that our stories will live on in these and other vessels.
¹ Francis H. Harlow and Dwight P. Lanmon, The Pottery of Zia Pueblo, Santa Fe, N. Mex. (School for Advanced Research Press) 2003, p. 321.
² The low temperature of firing meant that the paint did not completely fuse to the pot.