© Laura Walker

Tony Jojola

Tony Jojola, Glass Sculpture, Isleta Pueblo, Chimayo Trading Del NorteTony Jojola (Isleta Pueblo) is one of a handful Native American glass blowers. Born on the Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico, Jojola began working as a potter at a young age. Today Jojola, is one of the premier hot-blown glass artists in the nation, and has an international reputation as well. He began making pottery, as a young boy, inspired by his grandfather, who was also a silversmith and woodcarver. When Tony enrolled in the Institute of American Indian Arts, he had his first encounter with molten glass and fell in love with its fluidity and permanence. To further his training he received a scholarship to the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine, this led to a period of study at the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, Washington, where he served as apprentice to Dale Chihuly, the acknowledged master of American glass art and eventually became a member of his famed team of glass artists. Jojola credits his time at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts for cementing his commitment to the medium. Later, he would be Artist in Residence there. Tony’s work has been honored by fellowships and exhibits all over the United States and Europe. In 1999, he established the Taos Glass Workshop in Northern New Mexico, giving back to his community by training at-risk youth in a viable and fulfilling skill. To introduce his art form to Pueblo Indians he teaches young people the art of glass making. “Crafts were part of my family heritage, and I tried making pottery and jewelry. Nothing really grabbed me until I discovered glass” he has said. He finds glassmaking “a way to take old traditions and apply them in a new and very beautiful way.” Much of the work he and his students produce reflects tribal heritage. Some of their glass bowls and vessels are made in shapes originally developed by Indian basket makers. Others are decorated with ancient patterns or symbols. What marks Tony Jojola’s art is the incorporation of his heritage in his work: Forms follow traditional pottery shapes; designs are the old symbols of nature; and in a very personal way, he uses his grandfather’s actual jewelry stamps to adorn some of the pieces. Since each piece is hand-blown, without any molds, there are never any two alike and the forms are fluid and organic, rather than sharp-edged. Using 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. Jojola’s work has been exhibited in Wheelwright Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Heard Museum, the Burke Museum. His work has been collected in many private and public collections.


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