“I do the hard work,” she laughed in reply.
Paloma gives back to his community by teaching pottery at Zuni High, and young people are responsive.
“Some of the hard core students are bringing their pots to me to be fired,” he said. “I can tell some of them will be potters in the future. We may see them here at the Zuni Marketplace one day.”
Back in the courtyard, Anderson Peynetsa demonstrated the process of building a piece of Zuni pottery. Exhibiting intense concentration despite the waves of onlookers who surged around his table, Peynetsa began his large pot by forming a base in a small glass bowl. Peynetsa’s coils are flattened, then carefully joined in an upward spiral.
The bowl is centered on a rotating base, and Peynetsa used his hands and a tool to thin and shape the walls of the pot. When he was learning the procedure, there was no pottery teacher at Zuni High—Peynetsa learned the work from an Acoma woman.
As he worked, Peynetsa spoke of the hard work of gathering and processing the clay.
“If you don’t say a prayer, the clay won’t come,” he said. “Say a prayer and the clay will come.”
Peynetsa sifts the clay through window screening and allows it to dry. Then, mixing the clay, he leaves it in a pillowcase on the bare earth. His clay is pleasing to the touch, quite pliable yet firm.
Other Zuni crafts catch the viewer’s eye. Carlton Jamon and his wife Julie work together to produce amazing silver work. A ring he created took Best of Division. Appearing bulky, the body of the ring is actually hollow, made by joining shaped flat pieces and buffed and polished into a seamless work of art.
Jamon, his wife said, was commissioned by the Gallup Diocese to create a silver chalice for the Pope.
“It is on display at the Vatican,” she said proudly.
Another form of Zuni art is kachina carving, and this is well illustrated in the work of Felino Eriacho. His carving of a Comanche Dancer won him Best of Division. He has been carving since 1987, and credits Hopi carver Wilmer Kaye as his mentor and teacher. Eriacho also produces beautiful fetishes, including charmingly plump little bears.
As in each of the museum’s marketplace shows, there was too much to see, and buyers were hard pressed to make those final decisions on purchases. Some visitors admitted to having great collections of a given item—for one man it was frogs, for another it was bears. For others, their purchase was their first introduction to Zuni.
But whether one was a seasoned collector or a new admirer, all seemed to be enjoying themselves.