Keynote: Nora Naranjo-Morse

Friday, Oct 10, 2008

Nora Naranjo-Morse presented a video of her work 'Always Becoming' at the new National Museum of the American Indian, near the United States Capitol building on the grassy mall area in Washington, D.C.

Nora Naranjo-Morse says she had been thinking for a while that she would like to create some public sculptures that would be forever changing. She thought it was be especially interesting in a city like Washington, D.C., where most of the art and the buildings are permanent.

The five sculptures that resulted are from more than two meters to almost six meters tall. Three are together in one grassy area outside the museum. They are named Mother, Father and Little One. Two larger ones are sheltered nearby under a tall old elm tree. They are named Moon Woman and Mountain Bird.

All of them are made of organic materials from the earth -- clay, dirt, water, sand, straw, wood and stone. Through the years they will slowly wear away. They will always be changing and becoming something new as the weather works on them. As the outside wears away, something else will appear.

Podcasts of her project are available here :

Project Blog here:

Nora Naranjo-Morse Bio

Nora Naranjo-Morse, a Tewa Pueblo Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo, is a sculptor, writer and video producer of films that look at the continuing social changes within Pueblo culture. Her video What Was Taken . . . was screened in the 1997 Native American Film and Video Festival at the National Museum of the American Indian. In conjunction with this festival, her video, I've Been Bingo-ed by My Baby, was screened at the American Indian Community House.

Nora incorporates the various media she works in to make social comment on the lives of contemporary Native women. She is best known for her work in clay. This medium holds special significance not only because of its place within the history of Santa Clara Pueblo art, but also because of the traditional processing it requires. While her forms convey an aesthetic that is non-traditional, the content of her work is always rooted in issues that concern her community. Her work, in fact, often reflects on the tensions of producing art for a Western art market that often praises its innovative approach while, at the same, marginalizes it as "native" art.

She lives in northern New Mexico with her family in an adobe house that she and her husband built. Nora is the daughter of Rose Naranjo, sister of Dr. Rina Swentzell, Dr. Tessie Naranjo, Professor Tito Naranjo, potter Jody Folwell, sculptor Michael Naranjo, potters Dolly Naranjo and Edna Romero. She is the aunt of sculptor Roxanne Swentzell and potters Jody Naranjo, Susan Folwell, Polly Rose Folwell, Dusty Naranjo and Forrest Naranjo.