Images courtesy of artist

Images courtesy of artist

Teaching others how to carve stone for their own use is another way of passing on traditional cultural knowledge.
— Cliff Fragua



TRIBE: Jemez Pueblo

MEDIUM: Carving

LOCATION: Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico




Anyone who desires to learn the traditional practices of stone carving is never turned away. For Cliff Fragua, stone carving has its place in Jemez Pueblo culture. It remains a vital part of their ceremonies. 

“Teaching others how to carve stone for their own use is another way of passing on traditional cultural knowledge,” he says. He’s been asked why he shares his skills. To him, it not only helps the individual economically, but also moves the community to another level when they gain knowledge of the art form.

Over the past 40 years, Cliff has demonstrated his dedication to helping Native artists, whether through his award-winning art, committee and volunteer work, or teaching. In 1990, he was instrumental in founding the Towa Arts and Crafts Committee, which evolved into the Jemez Arts and Crafts Association. Cliff saw the need for such an organization early on to help local Jemez Pueblo artists. The association provided venues and shows for artists to sell their work, creating an art economy so they could provide for their families. Now he helps other Indigenous communities set up their own associations.

Chris Pappan (Kaw) chose to nominate his fellow artist for the Community Spirit Award because Cliff immerses himself in the cultural practices of the pueblo and the ways of his People, expressed through his sculptures.

“This deep sense of responsibility to sustaining the arts of Indigenous people is just one of the many reason I supported the nomination of Cliff Fragua,” said Chris, a ledger artist in Chicago and former First Peoples Fund Artists in Business Leadership fellow.