Working with Contemporary Artist Nora Naranjo Morse

Conservation Crew

Working with Nora Naranjo Morse from Santa Clara Pueblo on Always Becoming

May 5-7, 2008

For information on the sculpture Always Becoming see the NMAI website:

Day One: May 5, 2008

We met up with Nora and began with a conversation about her work and about the history of Pueblo pottery. She comes from a family of ceramic artists and we learned about old traditions and current trends in Pueblo pottery. She had chosen works from the collection that she wanted to talk about with us and show us various styles and techniques of Santa Clara pottery.

In the afternoon we worked with two different clays from New Mexico. Nora wanted us to see the different clays and then mix them together. We made small pinch pots and used tools to decorate the pots. Nora was genuinely interested in what we thought of the material.

Clay mix from New Mexico

Day Two: May 6th 2008

This day we met up at the NMAI museum on the national mall for the initial cleaning of the sculptures. We began with “Mother.” Working with natural sponges and water we used quick circular movements to brush the surface of the sculpture to make it more even, and lessen the appearance of erosion on the surface. It completely freaked me out to see the surface fall off. These sculptures are made to last for ten years and so the surface is meant to break down over time. Nora assured us that we were improving the appearance of the surface not damaging the sculpture. We began to work on “Moon Woman” aka Beyonce. Nora wanted to reinterpret the losses of the surface. Monique, another intern made the losses more decorative so they looked like they were made purposefully. Nora really liked this and then more decorative flourishes were added.

sanding Moon Woman “Beyonce”Nora and “Beyonce”

Day Three: May 7th 2008

We reconvened at the NMAI mall museum in the morning. Nora had decided that some of the decorative flourishes were too distracting from the piece and so we removed areas of surface where some of these decorative flourishes had been. After removing these areas of the surface we talked about the sculpture and what we thought of the changes. Nora showed us a film of the Acoma Pueblo and we spoke about pueblo architecture and culture and how they relate to her work.

Conservation Crew