Our Fall 2022 guest editor, RoseMary Diaz, talks with Craftsmanship Magazine’s managing editor, Laurie Weed, about growing up “half-Indian” in Northern New Mexico; the surprising controversy around “art” vs. “craft;” and the story behind the stories of our first issue focused on Native American craft. background image by Kitty Leaken
Among the different Indigenous cultures represented by the Southwest’s Native American tribes, some of the richest history of craftsmanship has been, and still is, practiced by the Pueblo Indians. For some of these artisans, the inspiration for carrying on came from an early artistic pioneer: a rebel painter named Pablita Velarde.
Written by DANIEL GIBSON
Photography by KITTY LEAKEN
Felipe Ortega was known for his controversial opinions on culture, as well as his expertise with an unusual form of pottery. He devoted his life to bucking tradition, in more ways than one.
Felipe Ortega devoted his life to creating the perfect pot of beans—and to teaching people from around the world, regardless of ethnicity, to make micaceous clay pots in the same style he learned from a local tribal Elder. Over the years, Ortega’s journey involved such an unusual combination of the traditional and the nontraditional that it brought some old questions into a new light: Who owns a tradition? Who is allowed to learn and practice it, and for what purpose?
Written by DEBORAH BUSEMEYER
Photography by KITTY LEAKEN
Unlike most Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, many Native American tribes located in the Southwest have retained their ancestral homelands and their sovereign governance through the ages. This has enabled their traditional ways and art forms not only to survive, but also to continue evolving. To understand how this came to pass, our writers peek into the region’s long and colorful history.
BY ROSEMARY DIAZ and DANIEL GIBSON
You may not have heard the term “acequia,” but it describes one of oldest, most common-sense systems of irrigation on the planet. The basic idea is to use, and share, a river’s natural patterns rather than rely on the predominant American system—namely, trap it, pipe it, and race to be the first to use it. Our writer tours the globe to track down the acequia’s history, and its leading practitioners.
Story and photography by ROBERTO LOVATO
The carving and painting of santos, or devotional art, is one of the oldest living folk art traditions in the U.S., dating back some 400 years. As Semana Santa (Holy Week) marks the holiest of days for millions of Christians around the globe, we talked with several of New Mexico’s modern santeros — and santeras…
Acequias arrived with the legendary (or infamous, depending on one’s perspective) expeditions to New Mexico and Colorado led by the best-known conquistadors: Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, Juan de Oñate, and Diego de Vargas—all native-born Spaniards. Less commonly known is the fact that these conquistadors who brought acequias to the southwestern U.S. region were most often…