van Dyk Gallery

  • Dorothy Torivio - Acoma Pottery

Dorothy began full-time potting in the mid-1970s. By the early 1980s, she was recognized as an accomplished Acoma potter. Today, she is probably the most recognized contemporary Acoma potter. In 1998, she was one of several Native American, women potters featured in an exhibit, "The Legacy of Generations: Pottery by American Indian Women," organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. This exhibition toured the United States for two years. She again was featured in a book of the same name, which showed the artists and their pieces in this exhibition. Dorothy was under the banner of "The Avant Garde."

As a child, she recalls being fascinated by her mother's pottery making, Mary Antonio Valley. This was her start, but she credits her mother-in-law, Lolita Torivio Concho, with giving her artistic direction. "My dad worked for the Santa Fe Railroad which runs next to the northern border of the Acoma reservation. When I was a young girl, he was transferred to California, where I went through school. During the summers, my mother and I went back to the reservation. It was then, as a teenager, that I started selling my mother's and grandmother's pottery on the roadside of old Route 66. The money for the tourists help sustain us."

"In the mid-seventies, I found myself a single mother with three kids. I started selling my pottery on the portico of the Governor's Palace on the Santa Fe square. Then, my pots were patterned with Mimbres designs. One day, bored, I thought that I would try to develop a new, unique design using geometric patterns that repeat over and over."

"I refined this idea, and now I create a geometric design, and then repeat that design in a continuous circle or spiral, with the same number of repetitions, regardless of the circumference of the piece I am working. My patterns grow larger or smaller, according to the circumference, but always with the same number of repetitions."

The very precise patterns can become exquisitely complex, which has led some to believe she must use a computer, or some mathematical engine; but no, the designs are all hand drawn and executed with a traditional yucca brush, using traditional pigments. Her shapes are often called vases, but she explains them as exaggerated seed bowls. She is noted for executing pieces with very thin walls, enabled by the strong local clay. Pick up one of her pieces and you'll notice how light in weight they are. Her painting is also noted for it smooth, even coloration.

PS: Dorothy is now exhibiting in the most exclusive Native American art galleries, not the portico of the Governor's Palace.

From Canyon


Contact us for details about
what we offer from this fine artist.