Madeline E. Naranjo


Madeline E. Naranjo

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Carved Blackware Jar by Madeline Naranjo
(click to enlarge)

Madeline E. Naranjo is an award-winning contemporary potter from Santa Clara Pueblo. Born in 1971, Madeline wasted no time learning from older family members the fundamentals of hand coiling traditional pottery using the methods of their ancestors. Like many youngsters growing up in Pueblo culture Madeline began learning simply by watching her grandmother, Madeline Naranjo, make her own pottery. Not only is Madeline’s grandmother her namesake, but also an influential, award-winning potter in her own right. Madeline had the gift of visiting with her grandparents almost daily – after school, during summer vacation and evenings. While she was inspired by many of her family members to continue a long-lived family tradition, it was her grandmother who repeatedly placed clay in her hands to create something with while she observed her grandmother working.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t until Julie Gutierrez started teaching Madeline did she decide to become an artisan. Julie helped Madeline propel her works into the fine pieces of art collectors admire today. Perfecting pottery did not come easily to Madeline and it was Gutierrez’s patient instruction that helped her refine her techniques. In 1991 Madeline began her career as a contemporary traditional Santa Clara Potter along with her husband, Adrien Garcia. Madeline now works solitarily but still creates earthen-fired, deeply carved and strikingly polished blackware pottery with a unique contrast between highly polished and unpolished matte surfaces.

She begins by gathering her red clay from within the grounds of Santa Clara Pueblo. Madeline then cleans the clay of any debris, mixes it with water to make it malleable, hand coils the clay then shapes her pottery. Upon finishing the form of a pot, she will meticulously carve her designs into the pot’s surface. After her designs are completed she polishes the surface to a high

sheen while leaving other areas of the pot less polished thus creating a unique contrast between mat surfaces and highly polished surfaces on the exteriors of her pots. However, sometimes the pots “tell” her they want to be polished all over – to which she obliges. Finally, Madeline earthen fires the pot outdoors, using horse manure at the height of the firing process to remove oxygen from the fire thus turning her pottery black.

 Although she occasionally uses very traditional design motifs like the Avanyu (water serpent) or parrots, Madeline also incorporates things she sees in her everyday life into the design motifs of her pots.  Her family and community along with nature inspire the images Madeline chooses to carve into her pots; from buffalo and dragonflies to people and geometric abstractions.  She signs her work, “Madeline E. Naranjo, SCP.

While raising her family and continuing to be an active member of her community, Madeline continues to thrive as a full-time potter devoted to perpetuating her culture’s ancient art form as she strives to refine her work with each pot she makes. Madeline has participated in many SWAIA Indian Markets, starting in the early 1990’s, and continues to be an award winner today. Her works can be enjoyed and collected in galleries, online and from her booth at Indian Market annually.


Ancient Nations: HTML/2011/madeline_naranjo_black_rain.html
Cameron Trading Post: &
King Galleries: &
Madeline E. Naranjo Website’s Blog:
Material Insight:
Pueblo Direct: &
Wright’s Indian Art Gallery: