We all remember having that favorite doll when we were young. Imagine if that doll turned into a masterpiece. Years ago, contemporary potter, Jody Naranjo started making animal dolls for her children with leftover clay she had around the house. Once people started to notice these amusing clay figures, it became the beginning of a great creative endeavor. Naranjo began to design and bronze her clay animals, ensuring their permanence with a medium that can stand the test of time.
Jody Naranjo comes from a family of traditional Tewa potters and she is renowned for her contemporary pueblo pottery. Working with clay is as natural and necessary for Naranjo, as the strokes of a paintbrush are to Picasso. Though Naranjo’s family is known for their master works in traditional pottery, her designs veer away from the conventional shapes and motifs of her native descent. Naranjo has more of a “comical view” when it comes to her designs.
For the last few years Naranjo has been creating these whimsical animal sculptures in bronze. After getting one glimpse of these charming animal sculptures it is almost impossible not to desire one. Ranging from striking bronze deer to smiling bronze spiders, each individual animal is unique in shape and color. Naranjo describes her animals as, “happy little creatures that will make you smile.” Not only do the animals themselves tell a story but there is also a story behind each animal. The figures are initially created from a three-course process that involves traditional and ancient routines. Naranjo’s process involves hand-digging clay for each individual piece. Mindful of quality and consistency, she then adds volcanic ash to ensure the texture of the piece. Furthermore, she uses Taos micaceous clay to ensure shimmer. Each singular work is exposed to this process before its transition to bronze.
Naranjo is known for her award-winning contemporary art and adding these exquisite bronze sculptures to her oeuvre only further demonstrates that her creativity is boundless. As an artist, Naranjo believes that, “it is about entertaining yourself” and “growing as an artist.” These bronzed cuties are as fascinating and likeable as the artist herself. Discover these amazing creatures for yourself at the Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe!