STRONG LIKE A MOUNTAIN, PATIENT LIKE A TURTLE

By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer (Choctaw Nation), Artist in Business Leadership Fellow 2015

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Jason Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo Tewa) earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking within his 20-plus-year art career. He has participated in the Comic Art Indigene at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, and Native Pop! at the New Mexico Museum of Art. His work has led to top awards and honors, including a Ronald N. and Susan Dubin Fellowship at the School for Advanced Research, and Best of Classification and Artist’s Choice awards at the Santa Fe Indian Market.

In 2017, Jason participated in numerous shows and exhibits, including “A Grand Celebration” at The Poeh Museum. Jason resides in Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico.

Okuu Pin — strong like a mountain and the patience of a turtle. Like the meaning behind his traditional Tewa name, Jason has learned the best things take a little time, but it’s worth it in the end.

Jason brings the ancient into the present, inspired by everything around him. Hand gathering clay, native clay slips, outdoor firings — he fuses modern icons with these traditional practices. Jason examines life and interprets those things through his art. His finished works, often clay tiles created in the traditional Pueblo way, offer a rich visual mix. His art is always telling a story.

Jason’s first graphic tile in 2002 solidified his lifetime calling and expanded the norms of contemporary Pueblo art. He experiments with blending ancient Pueblo designs, his people’s stories, and stunning landscape with Western pop culture.

He values his tribal community’s acceptance of his work. His art also reaches the non-Native world with interpretations of his people and their past, but also their often overlooked present. “I feel I am always educating the public about my work and my process,” Jason said.

With his First Peoples Fund Artist in Business Leadership fellowship, Jason is creating a serigraphy/silkscreen print studio to expand his work as a full-time artist. “Serigraphy is a wonderful medium to get across many of the stories and ideas that my artwork portrays,” he explained.

Whether through traditional or modern mediums, Jason knows it is important to keep ceramic practices alive and to pass them down, as they were passed to him from time immemorial. He said, “I feel these materials and techniques connect me not only to my ancestral past and landscape but also connect myself and future generations to our Tewa cultural traditions.”