Born in 1954, Effie Garcia has been making pottery since she was fifteen. She began by polishing pieces made by her mother, Victoria Gutierrez. Then she learned to coil, form and carve her own pots. Her carving style is a variation on her mother’s deeply carved pottery outlined with matte slip; however, unlike her mother’s rounded edges Effie’s carving is crisp and sharp.
Effie has two sisters that follow in the family tradition, all doing variations on their mother’s work (her brother makes dance figures and animals). All of them use Santa Clara clay, volcanic ash temper and red slip from Santo Domingo Pueblo. All their pots are fired outdoors with wood and they use manure (cow, sheep, or horse) to produce the smothered black finish.
In 1981 her husband, Orville Garcia (of Acoma Pueblo), started making pottery on his own. The following year they began working together. Orville makes the hand coiled pots, Effie draws the design which she first works out on paper, and both work on the carving before the clay dries. Orville sands, Effie polishes, Orville recuts the carved designs, Effie outlines the incisions with slip and Orville finishes the work by painting in the carved area. The pot is then completed by ground-firing.
Their favorite style features a classically shaped bowl with a narrow base and a wide shoulder. Designs range from the traditional feather pattern, avanyu (water serpent), bear-with-heart-line and kiva step to modern elegant flourishes, swirls and Art Deco-influenced geometrics. Technically, their pottery is a beautiful cpmbination of form, balance and precision design. The work has an immediate appeal to both ethnic-art collectors and collectors of mainstream American art.
Effie and Orville have been consistent award winners at the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market, the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial Show and the Eight Northern Pueblos Arts and Crafts Show since 1983. Effie says making pottery is healing for her and she loves to see the happy faces of the people who purchase their work. Their work is signed: "Effie Orville Garcia SCP."
Effie and Orville have also been passing their knowledge and techniques on to their grandchildren Derrick and Brooklyn. We've seen some excellent pottery from them, too.