Spiritual Expressions through the Generations
“There is a collaboration between the clay and myself – the clay tells me what direction to take… And I follow the techniques of my ancestors.”
Lonnie Vigil grew up in the Nambé Pueblo of New Mexico. After earning a degree in business, he became a financial and business consultant in Washington D.C. He soon grew tired of his chosen path, as it did not “feed his soul.” Yet, one performance turned his head, which compelled him so deeply that he decided to return to the Land of Enchantment where he began working exclusively as a micaceous clay potter.
As a self-taught artist, Vigil continuously prays to the Clay Mother for direction. Through spiritual preservation and the guidance of his ancestors, his great-grandmother and great aunts who were also potters, Vigil channels this connection into his work. Today, the artist is credited with single-handedly reviving unpainted, micaceous pottery, and establishing it as a contemporary art form.
Vigil approaches his work as a collaborative process between himself and the clay. Through a careful process of molding and sculpting its earthen coils, the material, Vigil contends, tells him what she wants to become. The Clay Mother is ever involved, directing the work, and procuring the expression. Through years of attained knowledge, the artist sculpts the work for correct thickness, and ardently smoothens its surface for a successful firing. An artful tradition, instinctively passed down to him through the generations, it is with patient love and attention that the piece is complete.
“These are blessing you take to your home,” he says, “When someone decides to take a piece, we wish them luck to their home and to their family.”