San Ildefonso Pueblo
John F. Gonzales is a full blooded Native American
Tewa Indian from the San Ildefonso Pueblo. After a distinguished academic
career at Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Gonzales worked in a series of administrative and management positions.
In 1987 he was elected by Tribes throughout the United States as President
of the National Congress of American Indians. He was the youngest person
ever elected to that position with the Bush Administration as a Consultant
working with Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan in establishing
the National Indian Gaming Commission. Early in 1991, Gonzales decided
that he needed to return home to New Mexico and to reinvolve himself
in Pueblo life. Little did he know this would lead to a career change.
With the encouragement of his father, Lorenzo, a well-established potter,
Gonzales immersed himself into the ancient tradition of working with
clay. He attributes the ease of his transition from a life in politics
to a career in art to the assistance of his father and sister. They
made clay, slips, and polishing stones available, but, more importantly,
they shared their expertise. It didn’t take long for Gonzales
to realize that he had a gift for working with clay. his doubts about
whether or not he could make a living from his art work soon vanished.
In 1994 John Gonzales won the prestigious Southwest Association for
Indian Art (SWAIA).Quail Run Fellowship. Events in 1995 led him to become
more involved with the SWAIA Organization, the sponsor of the world
class showcase of Indian Art-the Santa Fe Indian Market. He served on
Board of Directors and served as Chairman in 1997. In October, 1998
he was honored with being inducted into the Stanford University American
Indian Alumni Hall of Fame.
Gonzales has exhibited at the Santa Fe Indian Market, Eight Northern
Indian Pueblos, Council Arts and Crafts Show, Eiteljorg Museum Indian
Art Market in Indianapolis, Southwest Museum Indian Art show in Los
Angeles, and the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair in Phoenix. His pottery
was selected for the opening exhibit at the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor
Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University in January, 1999. His
is especially grateful that he chose to come home when he did, since
he lost his father in 1995, his mother and older brother in 1996.
The change in careers allowed him to spend precious time with his parents.
“The natural clays I gather from Mother Earth sustains me and
provides me with a spiritual sense of well-being,” he asserts.
He firmly believes he was touched by the Creator and blessed with his
artistic talent late in his life so that he could work side by side
with his father and at the same time take care of his diabetic mother.
“Their spirit moves through me and lies within each piece of pottery
I create,” Gonzales concludes. His artistic career is dedicated
to their memory.