First American Art Magazine No. 22, Spring 2019 - Page 79

KATHLEEN WALL teacher in my very first class on my very first day of college! She happened to be my advisor back then [in 1995], when I was just a youngster starting out, and when I returned to the institute decades later she was my advisor again. RD: You’re one of many I’ve heard express such sentiments. Linda was definitely an integral component of the school for a long time. We were surrounded by such vast creativity during our respective scholarships at IAIA, as we have been throughout our lives, both of us coming from big fami- lies of Pueblo potters and artists. Do you believe creativity is inherent? Is it in our genes? In our Native DNA? KW: I don’t know if I can say it’s in our DNA or in our genes, but it’s in our culture and in our surroundings, so in that way, it’s inherited. If we participate in being Native—and I can only relate to being Pueblo because that’s how I was raised—we’re surrounded by artwork. We live with artwork and use it in our daily lives. We have beautiful [clay pottery] jars that we use for water and baskets to carry our food. We wear our beautiful jewelry, and all of our dancing and ceremonial regalia is very artistic. So in that sense, we don’t ever live without art. It’s a constant influence: from the time we’re very young children to our old age, we’re looking at an art form of one sort or another. From getting dressed to serving food, art is all around us all the time. That’s what makes us so expressive within our own voices: part of the way we look at the world is through art. RD: Do you observe any particular process in preparing to be creative? KW: I have so many deadlines, so there are a lot of demands on my creativity. I don’t have the luxury of time to prepare myself to be creative or prepare to create. Basically, I’m constantly working on the next project or understanding that I need to make certain pieces in order to pay bills, and I have pieces that are due for different projects and events. So my creative process isn’t really about getting ready to create, it’s just about creating. I don’t worry about mastering [a tech- nique], I just create. RD: Talk a bit about that process of creating. KW: I’m not married to any one tech- nique or any one medium, so I’m mixing up mediums all the time. Of course I do pottery for a living. But when I’m working on a multimedia project, I don’t worry about anything. It all goes. I usually mix [local] clays and pigments with acrylics for my paintings. I never use an armature for my sculptures; I build everything like I do with pottery, with the coiling technique. Even the largest pieces are hand-built by coiling. RD: As an artist, how do you learn from those times when things don’t quite come to fruition? KW: Most of the loss for potters and ceramic artists is from the uncontrolled, outdoor firing, which I appreciate and am a fan of but don’t partake in myself. For the most part, I have my own type of insurance policy. If [a particular piece] is really, super important as far as time constraints or being really fragile, I usually make two pieces. That way I don’t have an issue with getting the order to a client or an organization by the set date. And it helps me build my inventory, which is always good. If something breaks, it’s melted back down into clay. That broken piece represents a lot of work, a lot of hours, and I don’t want to waste the clay. If it’s already fired, sometimes I’m able to salvage something here or there, but, for the most part, it just gets recycled. There’s a big pile of rocks in my yard that I like to [smash] the [broken] pots or sculptures on, but I don’t have many failures, and breakage rarely happens. [In 2017, when I interviewed Wall for an Indian Market profile, I posed the ques- tion above a little differently, asking her what she has learned from failure. Her answer changed my point of reference on the subject, and I’ve held the lesson since: “Failure is inevitable in all aspects of life. What I’ve gained is a perspective that SPRING 2019 | 77