Fannie Loretto – Jemez

Published on August 24, 2014 by Carol

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Fannie Loretto Clown Mask

Fannie Loretto, “Little Turqoise”, was born in 1951. She is half Jemez and half Laguna, She is a member of the water clan. She began making pottery at the age of 16. Fannie has been hand coiling clay sculptures and masks for over 22 years, prior to that she made several shapes of hand coiled pottery using traditional ancient methods which were passed down to her from several members in her family.

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Fannie was inspired to learn the art of working with clay by assisting her mother, Carrie Reid Loretto make her pottery., Carrie specialized in hand coiled pottery. Fannie gathers all her natural pigments from within the Jemez Pueblo. Then, she grinds, cleans, mixes the clay, hand pinches, shapes, paints, and fires her art, outdoors the traditional way. Fannie stated that: “the masks are my favorite to create because it’s like drawing in 3-D, when I make them.” Fannie is well known for her koshari masks, and she makes them in several different sizes and adds ribbons, feathers, horse hair, and corn husks to compliment her art. She signs her pottery as: Fannie Loretto, followed by the water sign to denote her Clan origin.

Fannie is a talented artist who is committed to uphold the tradition of hand made pottery. Her work has been recognized with many awards including best of show at the Heard Museum and eight Northern Pueblos show.

Others have often asked why she does not use a ceramic mold to make her masks more easily. She would not hear of it! Each piece is carefully crafted by hand, the traditional way, so that each one has a unique expression and character. She recently told me a story in which she had just finished several masks and they were all hanging on a wall. As she sat checking over them, she said you could almost hear all of the incredible laughs each mask would produce with its unique expression. Artists with such passion in their work are becoming harder and harder to find these days. Fannie is an artist of true tradition.

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Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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