Born in 1932, Joseph is a son of noted potters Camilio and Agapita Tafoya, and the brother of Grace Medicine Flower. Beginning in the early 1970’s, Joseph Lonewolf revolutionized the world of Santa Clara pottery by incorporating his sgraffito (lightly etching the surface of the clay) and incised (more deeply cut into the clay) designs in his work. A book was published in 1974 entitled “The Pottery Jewels of Joseph Lonewolf,” one of the first books ever highlighting a single Native American artist.
Joseph has also been credited as the innovator of two-tone pottery (red and black) using a single-fire process. Previous methods of producing two-tone pottery required two firings. Joseph also pioneered the use of different colored slips on his pottery, often using red, yellow, orange, green, sienna, purple, black, brown and buff slips he discovered in the soils of Colorado. He always made his pots using the traditional Santa Clara techniques of hand-coiling and ground-firing.
He was awarded numerous awards throughout his career and his work can be found in museums worldwide. He has been featured in numerous books including “The Art of Clay” and has received the prestigious New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2009 and the SWAIA Lifetime Achievement Award.
Joseph taught his methods and techniques to his three children, Susan Snowflake Romero (Lonewolf), Rosemary Apple Blossom Lonewolf and Greg Lonewolf, before he passed in 2014.