Pueblo: Zuni Pueblo

Noreen Simplicio digs her clay from the traditional Zuni clay beds, processes the clay to a plastic form, coils, forms and polishes her work using traditional methods, and makes her own paint pigments that are fired on the ware.  “I cherish the gift the other Earth gave me, I am able to share my talent and gift through my work, I have met many wonderful people. I am very proud. I feel good about my pottery. I enjoy having my hands in clay.”

Noreen shares her own story:

“Like many others, I had my first lesson in pottery making in 1977, here at the local High School in Zuni Pueblo. Classes were instructed by Jennie Laate, an Acoma woman. After High School, I started in an Apprenticeship with noted clay sculptor, Angelina Medina. Angelina inspired me to further develop my skills and venture into the increasingly competitive world of pueblo pottery.

My unique pottery forms are characterized by a distinctive delicacy of design that combines traditional Zuni pottery symbols with contemporary design elements of my own creations. I make great use of fine line, and of bird and animal symbols. The scenes depicted on my work often stress the Universal Harmony that should be maintained among all living things. I specialize in miniatures, bowls, seed-bowls with lizards and vases sculptured with scenes of ancient pueblo dwellings that are fully detailed with tiny figures of pueblo inhabitants.

In February of 1988, I entered my very first competitive Art Show in Palm Springs, California. There I experienced the thrill of receiving an Award of Excellence for my work, and of selling virtually all of my creations directly to the public. My second show was the All Zuni Artist Show at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. In May of 1989, of the six pieces that I placed in competition, four were awarded First Place blue ribbons, one received second, and one received third. In August of 1988 I was featured as a new artist at the 67th Annual Indian Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I have a growing list of major art awards.

In January of 1990, I took over for the teacher who had first taught me the basics of pottery making at the Zuni High School. Since then, my work has been very successful.

Adapted from Southern Pueblo Pottery: 200 Artist Biographies by Gregory Schaaf.