A member of the Tewa tribe from Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico, Nora Naranjo-Morse earned a BA from the College of Santa Fe. She is the daughter of the potter Rose Naranjo and grew up surrounded by women relatives and siblings, all of whom worked with clay. Her own sculptures and films are in collections at the Smithsonian Institution, the Heard Museum, the Albuquerque Museum, and the National Museum of the American Indian. Naranjo-Morse is the author of the poetry collection Mud Woman: Poems from the Clay (1992), which combines poems with photographs of her clay figures.
Naranjo-Morse’s figures represent a nontraditional aesthetic and range from the humorous and human character Pearlene to large abstract installations. In her preface to Mud Woman, Naranjo-Morse discusses the relationship of the poems to the artwork: “Three-dimensional clay Pearlenes were often inspired by poems written months or even years before. In return, poems began to formulate images, complete with personality, physical detail, and motive.” Naranjo-Morse’s poems often portray the challenge of producing art for a Western art market that is concerned with monetary worth and that prizes individuality. She explained of her cultural heritage: “In the Tewa language, there is no word for art. There is, however, the concept of an artful life.”
The recipient of an honorary degree from Skidmore College, Naranjo-Morse has been a keynote speaker for the American Studies Association of Turkey and the Res Artis Foundation in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Poems by Nora Naranjo-Morse
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