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Get To Know American Indian Potter Linda Lucero Fragua

Get To Know American Indian Potter Linda Lucero Fragua

Jemez Pueblo (pronounced “Hay-mess” or traditionally as “He-mish”) is one of the 19 American Indian Pueblos in New Mexico. It is located in the North-Central part of the state, one hour northwest of Albuquerque or a little over an hour southwest of Santa Fe. Over the past several decades, the Jemez people have started a renaissance of sorts in traditional pottery making and are now quite well-known for their appealing pottery artwork such as bowls, seed pots, and wedding vases. They are, perhaps, best known, though, for their pottery storytellers depicting the traditional mother telling stories to a group of children at her feet. At Jemez Pueblo, during the long cold winter months, when the earth and people are at rest, awaiting the sun’s return, storytelling is common among Jemez families. Elders tell family and tribal stories thus ensuring the vitality of tribal customs and history. The Jemez pottery storytellers commemorate this tradition in a beautiful way.

One of the most famous of Jemez pottery families is the Fraguas, headed by Linda Lucero Fragua. Linda was born on November 28th, 1954 and has lived at Jemez Pueblo her entire life. A member of the Jemez Corn Clan, Linda Lucero Fragua learned pottery making from her mother, Rebecca Lucero. Now, Linda is passing this beautiful tradition on to her husband, Phillip M. Fragua; her two daughters, Chrislyn and Amy Fragua; and her son, Loren Wallowing Bull.

Linda Lucero Fragua creates all of her pottery entirely by hand. She prayerfully digs her clay from a secret area of Jemez Pueblo, which she hand-forms into pottery figures, air-dries, and hand-paints each using natural clay slips dug from the Jemez earth before firing. Every single piece that Linda creates is absolutely unique, such a rarity in today’s mass-produced market. Through sheer talent, Linda Lucero Fragua is able to give the sweetest expressions to the faces of her clay figures, for she’s truly a master at bringing her pottery to life. Clearly, Linda’s skill hasn’t gone unnoticed as she’s won quite a few awards including 1st Place in the 1990 Dallas Indian Art Show, 3rd at the 1998 Eight Northern Pueblo Indian Arts & Crafts Show, 2nd in Storytellers at the 2000 Santa Fe Indian Market, 1st Place at the 2007 Tesoro Cultural Center’s Indian Market & Powwow, and 1st Place again at Tesoro in 2009.

Linda Lucero Fragua and other Jemez Pueblo potters create outstanding pottery throughout the year, but every Christmas season, they produce a rich assortment of pottery pieces with a special Christmas theme including Nativity sets, Christmas trees, angels, snowmen, ornaments and Santa Clauses. Linda’s Christmas-themed items are truly exceptional holiday American Indian artwork, for somehow in her Christmas pieces, Linda is able to create little faces that truly express the joy of the holiday season. Through this effort alone, Linda Lucero Fragua gives back so much of that joy.