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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 14, 2001 - Issue 40


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Tony Jojola-Glass Blower

Photo - Peacock GlassTony Jojola (Isleta Pueblo) is one of only a handful Native American glass blowers. Born on the Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico, Jojola began working as a potter at a young age. After enrolling at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, he was exposed to the art of glass blowing. Further training at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine, led to a period of study at the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, Washington, where he served as a studio assistant to Dale Chihuly, the acknowledged master of American glass art.

"I rely on my Native American culture to create our old traditional and ceremonial forms such as seed jars, baskets and ollas in glass. Pueblo people have always created in clay."

Last year Mr. Jojola opened a workshop, in Taos, N.M., where he teaches young people to express themselves in glass. He accepts all applicants who appear serious, but his main goal is to show Indians a path that few have considered.

Photo - Olla"I got thrown out of high school myself, so I know the problems these kids face," said Mr. Jojola (pronounced ho-HO-la) while a handful of his students blew glass through pipes or watched over their kilns. "Crafts were part of my family heritage, and I tried making pottery and jewelry. Nothing really grabbed me until I discovered glass. I knew right away that there was definitely something there. To me glass is a lot like clay, but it takes clay a step further. It's like clay you can't touch."

Jojola's work is rooted in tradition though expressed in very modern terms. Out of love of the traditional forms Jojola uses the distinguishing elements of these vessels and intensifies them so that one can feel the presence of both the new and old. It is a beautiful union.

Jojola relies on his Native American culture for inspiration. He uses traditional and ceremonial forms, ollas, seed jars and basket forms, "old forms that my culture has respected throughout time," as the basis for his contemporary blown glass vessels.

Maps by Travel


Through A Glass Brightly
In his mind's eye, Isleta Pueblo sculptor Tony Jojola already can see the forms: water jugs, seed jars, decorative pots of every design and description, all blessed by the same sacred element as clay - fire - but made ofa substance that radiates the sun - glass. Lloyd Kiva New (Cherokee),the former Institute of American Indian Arts president who established a glass-blowing program at the Santa Fe school in the 1970s, sees more. He believes a studio glass center and glass-blowing projectnow taking form at Taos Pueblo will evolve into "one of the most significant Native American art movements since beadwork in the 1700s and metal-smithing and the use of silver in the 1850s."


A Glass Act
When Kathy Kaperick was growing up she lacked anyone in her life to give her direction -- much less inspiration. All that changed when she met Dale Chihuly.
Now Kaperick is director of an innovative program designed to make a difference in the lives of young people. Modeled on the successful Hilltop Artists-in-Residence program she and Chihuly founded in Tacoma, Washington, a new studio which opened in May 1999 in Taos, New Mexico, is yet another effort to show young people there is a better path in life than toward drugs and violence.

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Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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