FEBRUARY 25, 2001


Born in Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico, on August 13, 1904, Tofoya, whose Tewa name meant “Corn Blossom,” learned pottery-making as a child from her mother.  She made utilitarian black ware vessels using ancient coil-building methods with clay taken only from her pueblo and employed kiva step, mountain, clear sky, and bear claw designs.  Instead of a pottery wheel, Tofoya used her fingers to impress lines into the clay.  In the 1950s, she became known for large clay vessels.  Eight of her children became noted potters.  Tafoya’s first exhibition was at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology in Albuquerque, New Mexico (1974).  She was honored with retrospectives at the Denver Museum of Natural History (1982) & Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe (1983).  In 1984, she was named Folk Artist of the Year, National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC, and in 1985 and 1992 received Lifetime Achievement awards. Tafoya continued working in Santa Clara until her death. 

Sources:  “Margaret Tofoya,” National Endowment for the Arts, 1984.  Retrieved 6/9/2019, https://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/margaret-tafoya
 “Margaret Tofoya,” Clara: Database of Women Artists, National Museum of Women in the Arts, 3/2/2012.  Retrieved 6/9/2019, http://clara.nmwa.org/index.php?g=entity_detail_print&entity_id=8036
Photo:  Barry Gerstein, circa 1970.  Margaret Tofoya (1904-2001)--Wedding Vase, Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico.  Source: Bowers Museum. Orange, California.  Public Domain.

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