Camille Bernal, Taos
Camille here, living and creating artworks in my home at Taos Pueblo, New Mexico where I grew up, drawing inspiration from the spectacular scenery that is vividly tinted with a blessed spectrum of hues.
Artists are a product of their environment and I’m no exception. My love for playing with dirt as a kid was later refined by instructors at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM, where I graduated in 2004. From about 2003 to 2014 I studied with pueblo potter Shawn Tafoya of Santa Clara Pueblo through the Poeh Arts Center in Pojoaque, NM.
A good feel for the earth came by studying the different consistencies, qualities, and textures of pueblo clays. I adore the native Tewa clay from the Espanola Valley, although Taos is known for the sparkly micaceous variety. But in a modern world, one’s environment is not confined within a geographic or cultural bowl.
I’m always working in an experimental style. My clay pieces might be traditional in form, or organically asymmetrical. I love the natural world, so my pots might be decorated with delicately painted fronds, stems and flowers climbing to the lip of the piece. Or perhaps they might be crawling with insects, like fuzzy caterpillars or wonderful pollinators. I enjoy hand carving some pieces, while others might be incised or embellished with clay adornments.
All my potteries are hand coiled with the traditional clay I’ve processed myself. This fabulous clay requires the addition of a temper, volcanic ash. My potteries are slipped and painted with natural pigments, some of which I’ve discovered in the Taos canyons. I like to incorporate a bit of micaceous flecks into some of my paints, for a bit of loveliness and as a remembrance of home. I fire my potteries outdoors in a metal box, the traditional way I was taught by Shawn Tafoya.
I find there are many artistic roads to travel. The creative process is a way of discovering the unknown, allowing an intuitive flow that brings new forms and styles in my pottery. This artistic passion has largely been a personal endeavor, although I’ve been sharing my pottery at the annual Native Treasures Show hosted by the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture in Santa Fe, or galleries like Keshi.
Collectors enjoy my works for their overall quality and uniqueness in design. I greatly appreciate their support and encouragement. Their appreciation and my inherent creative desire nudge me forward to keep working on my clay because it’s part of who I am. I love it!
As I continue to cultivate and improve myself on a personal level, so will my artwork evolve.
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