From the wings of eagles to tires on the blacktop, Natalie Sandia’s pottery and family legacy have been all about the journey.
“Me and my dad, we used to travel all over most of the United States delivering pottery,” Natalie says, “and that was just so awesome. I got to meet a lot of people, and see the way he used to pack the pottery and everything. The road trips we took, it was just something else.”
Natalie is a full-time pottery artist, known for her genie vases, and prominent use of feather motifs on her finely crafted pottery to represent her Eagle Clan. She started making pottery after high school, around the age of 18. “I was pretty much taught by my mom, but it wasn’t her telling me how to do it,” she recalls. “She just told me, ‘Look at it closely, what do you think, how do you think it looks?’ and I would see that it was lopsided or something like that, and if didn’t look right, I had to rebuild it up again until it looked perfect.” (See Natalie's Bio)
In January 2015, five Pueblo potters, Erik Fender (San Ildefonso), Elizabeth Medina (Zia), Frederica Antonio (Acoma), Patricia Lowden (Acoma), and Robin Teller (Isleta), were commissioned by Shumakolowa Native Arts to create traditional Pueblo pottery in the form of a contemporary coffee mug, which could be replicated.
The popularity of the mugs prompted the commission of a second series of Pueblo Pottery Mugs, this time with designs by Martha Romero (Nambé), Carlos Laate (Zuni), Denise Chavarria (Santa Clara), Helen Bird (Santo Domingo), and a collaboration from Lisa Holt (Cochiti) and Harlan Reano (Santo Domingo).
Series two debuted with Martha Romero’s design just before Christmas 2017, with the others being released at intervals through mid-February 2018. Series three debuted in October 2018 with mugs from Juanita Fragua (Jemez), Clarence Cruz (Ohkay Owingeh), Natalie Sandia (Jemez), Myron Sarracino (Laguna), and Hubert Candelario (San Felipe). The goal is to eventually have potters from each of New Mexico’s 19 Pueblos produce a mug design representing their Pueblo.
The originals for series one through three are on display at Shumakolowa, located inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. All of the participating artists receive royalties for each mug sold, with proceeds also supporting the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico.