Join Melanie Paytiamo, youth artist from Pueblo of San Ildefonso and Acoma Pueblo in ceramic painting!
LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR GUEST FACILITATOR: Melanie Paytiamo
My name is Melanie Paytiamo, I am from San Ildefonso Pueblo and Acoma Pueblo. I am a tribal member of the Pueblo of San Ildefonso. I grew up in Acoma where my father is from. My mother and father were married for 21 years, I have an older brother and nieces and nephews in both Acoma and San Ildefonso. I moved from Acoma in 1989 to attend a boarding school in Santa Fe, NM. I was a dorm student for a couple of years, then decided to live with my maternal grandparents and become a day student. I graduated HS in 1995 and briefly attended Santa Fe Community College. I left school and worked to help my grandparents raise myself and my uncle’s 5 children after he passed from an illness.
As a child, my paternal grandmother, Alice V. Paytiamo (Acoma) taught me the art of pottery making. I would make what she called as “thumb pots”. I roll some clay in a small ball then stick my thumb in the middle of the ball and form the pot from there. My grandmother would polish, paint and fire her own pottery. We would then go up to old Acoma and sit outside the house and sell the pottery we made. As I grew older and left for school, my grandmother would continue her daily pottery making. Of course, she aged and could not go out and collect materials for pottery. She started painting ceramic pottery to keep herself busy. This is the time I was introduced to ceramics. I would come home occasionally to visit my grandmother and parents. I would split my summers between Acoma and San Ildefonso. My paternal grandmother passed in February of 2006 and my paternal grandfather passed when my father was in high school.
My maternal grandparents made pottery as well; they made black on black pottery. My maternal grandparents were fairly known after participating in the Indian Market for 20+ years and having a shop of their own behind their home in San Ildefonso. They would demonstrate pottery making, there was always tour buses parked outside and even an Australian TV crew came and recorded her demonstration. They also demonstrated pottery making at Bandelier National Monument every summer. The museum at Bandelier has a wax sculpture of my grandmother’s backside. I watched my maternal grandparents made hundreds of pieces of pottery, I was them collect materials needed, mix the clay, make the pots and animals, polish them, paint them and fire them. I watched them build the firing pit 1000 times. I had never tried making the black on black, until one summer. I had always admired a black on black plate thay hung over the fireplace in the pottery shop. It was made by my grandmother’s grandfather. I told my Saya (grandmother) I wanted to make one like that. So there I went clay in my hands ready to form when my Saya told me, “Melo before you start say a prayer, clear your mind and open your heart and let the clay talk to you” I remember her words so clearly. There I went and I could not do it. It amazed me on how different the clay is between the clay in Acoma and clay in San Ildefonso. The clay in Acoma is soft and easy to form and the clay in San Ildefonso is tough and it was hard for me to form. At that moment I realized the hard work my grandparents put into every piece they ‘ve ever created, at that moment I realized why my Saya had bad arthritis, I realized many things. I, Melanie Paytiamo, did not have the ability to make a black on black pottery. I told my Saya in my own disappointment that I couldn’t. I told her I would stick to painting ceramics and she was fine with that. My maternal grandfather passed away in May of 2006 and my Saya continued on a long life of enjoying her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren until January of 2018 when she passed at the age of 96.
My maternal grandfather, Louis Naranjo, Sr (Teh’the), maternal grandmother, Florence Naranjo (Saya) and paternal grandmother, Alice V. Paytiamo were all such an inspiration in my life, in 4 of my 6 children’s lives, in my art. They continue to give me guidance in spirit and they are who I pray to before I start each piece I create.
In Partnership with:
Fine Art Friday is a weekly exploration into the arts with special guests and hands-on activities!
**Fine Art Friday Programming is included in Museum Admission**
This project is supported in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Partially funded by the City of Santa Fe Arts & Culture Department and the 1% Lodgers’ Tax
Partially funded by the County of Santa Fe Lodgers’ Tax