Photography
© Ely Abrums and Laura Walker

Carmelita Dunlap (1925-2000)

Carmelita Dunlap (1925-2000) is the daughter of Juanita and Romando Vigil of San Ildefonso Pueblo. Carmelita’s mother died when she was very young and her two aunts, Maria Martinez and Desideria Montoya, who also taught her to make pottery, raised her.

Her aunt, Maria Martinez, is considered a founder of San Ildefonso pottery. Carmelita learned pottery making by watching her aunts Maria and Desideria Montoya. Carmelita’s mother passed away when she was very young and Maria and Desideria raised her from then forward.

She painted motifs of elemental natural designs onto the polished surface using a yucca brush dipped in clay. She was known for her beautiful painting of large size pots in black-on-black, cream-on-red, and sunrise brown being the family’s specialty.

Carmelita was designated a National Treasure during the Nixon administration. She won Indian Market first place twenty times which is still to date unprecedented. Cynthia Starflower, Carmelita’s daughter, since her mother’s death is second in line to Maria Martinez. She brought back the “Sunrise” brown pottery seven years ago after her brother Carlos passed away. She is also one of the last Grandmaster potters currently working in San Ildefonso Pueblo. Her daughter Linda Dunlap is a master potter with beautiful burnishing work and is third in line to Maria.

For Additional Information:
American Indian Art Series: Pueblo Indian Pottery (750 Artist Biographies) by Gregory Schaaf


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