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 Tammy Garcia  (1969 - )

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Lived/Active: New Mexico / Mexico      Known for: Santa Clara Pueblo pottery

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from Auction House Records.
High rounded shoulder and fluted rim,
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Tammy Garcia is known for her large and elaborate pots carved with complex, extensive and original decoration.

A member of the well-known Tafoya family of potters from Santa Clara Pueblo, she continues her family's tradition of pottery. Though Garcia grew up working with clay she left home to attend cosmetology school using the money she made selling pots to pay her way. When her money ran out she took a job in an art gallery in Taos and it was there that she decided to return to her artwork.

She is one of the contemporary Native Americans changing perception of pottery from craft to fine art. She has expanded the traditional Santa Clara style from a band of designs around the middle of the pot to covering entire surfaces with elaborately carved images. She gathers the clay and volcanic ash from the hills around Santa Clara Pueblo and mixes them together with her bare feet.

Tammy Garcia has expanded into creating her sculptures in bronze and working with glass artist, Preston Singletary, to create glass pots. She has also added metal jewelry to her portfolio.

Source: Southwest Art, August 2005

She and her husband, Leroy, live in Taos, New Mexico.

Biography from Blue Rain Gallery:
Tammy Garcia is a Pueblo potter and sculptor whose work embodies both classic design and modern iconography. Her ceramic works encompass a progressive evolution of forms that include traditional effigies, water jars, and storage jars to non-traditional and modernized asymmetrical shapes. Given the dedication and attention to detail on these singular works, she only produces a limited number of new ceramic pieces each year.

Throughout Garcia’s artistic career, she has explored designs that are identifiable designs incorporated from ancient and historic Puebloan motifs including elements of nature, bird abstractions, and bands of repeating feathers, at once recognizable yet composed in manners that defy convention. She also explores fresh design sets that are not exactly prescribed themes found on Pueblo pottery—scallop shells, skulls and cross bones, graffiti lettering and a diverse repertoire of Chinese imagery.

A new and rather timely example of her pushing the design aesthetic includes use of imagery from the pulp magazine covers that reached their peak of popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, offering an inexpensive, yet titillating escape from the troubles of the day.

Pushing beyond the limits of natural clay and the “vessel” form, Garcia also forges new paths in bronze and glass, which mark a distinct change of direction within the larger contemporary Native American sculpture arena. Often referencing modernist aesthetic movements, such as Art Deco and Bauhaus, Garcia has constructed a Neo-Pueblo design vernacular as seen on twisting, totem-like, architectural forms that shoot up to the ceiling with high and low relief carvings reminiscent of her pottery. Her sculptures can act as two-dimensional canvases as well, evidenced on life-size bronze and glass panels whose surfaces aptly relay detailed narratives.

Garcia’s exploration of bronze as a medium is best described in her own words: “I love working in bronze because I’m able to create on a much larger scale than I can with pottery. It gives me a sense of freedom, allowing me to experiment. I also love the variety of colors and patinas available to me—I’m always looking for new ways to use them.”


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