Today, Zuni Pueblo is the largest of the 19 New Mexico Pueblos with a population of more than 10,000 individuals. Over 80 percent of Zuni families are involved in the arts, which include inlay silver jewelry, pottery, stone fetishes and more. This, and its culture and history, is the true treasure of Zuni Pueblo.
Across MNA’s courtyard, Lynn and Jayne Quam displayed their stonework. Lynn earned awards as Master Artist and took Best of Division. His work is distinguished by his choice of medium.
“I look for different stones than the other artists are using.”
His award winning piece incorporates some of the most popular—malachite, amber, coral, shell, turquoise and jet.
Rhoda Quam shares the booth. Her finely inlayed pieces exhibit a myriad of tiny, finely inlaid dragonflies. The motif of the dragonfly holds cultural significance to the Zuni.
“It’s use traditionally in our songs and stories,” she said. “I started working with the dragonfly when my late mother started using it. She told me it would bring good luck in sales.”
For Rhoda Quam, the Zuni show is a break from babysitting her grandchildren, aged 4 and 5. Her daughter, Tanya Quam, has served in the Navy for the past 11 years, helping out at several disasters, including the earthquake in Turkey, the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City two years ago and in the war with Iraq.
Taking the Marketplace Award and Best of Division awards was a “big surprise” to Gabriel Paloma. His piece, a corn meal bowl featuring Water Serpent, was hand coiled from clay gathered and prepared by Paloma himself. His pottery is exquisitely shaped with consistently thin walls—people unfamiliar with the Zuni technique would believe his work thrown on the wheel.
“It’s all in the hands,” Paloma said. “It’s in the clay and the water.”
Assisted by his wife, Phyllis, Paloma produces both slipped—coated with a layer of cream-colored clay—and unslipped pottery.
“She’s part of this,” Paloma said, gesturing towards his wife.