Born in 1972 at Santa Clara Pueblo, Kevin Naranjo was given a Tewa name meaning Turquoise Mountain. He says he was inspired to learn the ancient tradition of hand coiling pottery by the time he was four, that inspiration coming from his family and his love of nature.
Kevin was born into a family of famous potters, including Luther Gutierrez (his great-grandfather), Dolores Curran (a maternal aunt) and Geri Naranjo (his mother). Geri is renowned for her miniature sgraffito (fine line incised) pottery, the traditional methods of which she taught to both Kevin and his sister, Monica Naranjo Romero.
Specializing in hand coiled black/sienna sgraffito pottery, Kevin gathers his clay from sacred grounds within Santa Clara Pueblo. He digs and prepares the clay, hand-coils and shapes his forms, then lets them dry for a few days. Then he stone polishes the surfaces and ground fires his pottery using an oxygen-reduction process to make the black canvas for his designs. After firing, he etches the pot to create wonderful scenes of wildlife that live in the area of his home on Santa Clara.
The first piece he made as a child was a dinosaur. He remembers it well: it sparked an interest in molding animal figurines. That first inspiration and practice evolved until now his pottery embodies beautiful symmetry, graceful lines and finely executed sgraffito designs like as the avanyu (water serpent), kiva steps and the feather pattern. Additional figures such as bears, eagles, bighorn sheep, deer and elk are incorporated into backgrounds of pueblo ruins and mountain views.
Since 2001, Kevin has been collaborating with Tricia Pena from San Ildefonso Pueblo. Her grandfather, the late Encarnacion Pena, was a member of the original San Ildefonso School of Painters. Together Kevin and Tricia are passing the art of pottery making on to their children.
Kevin has consistently earned awards for his sgraffito and miniature pottery since starting to compete in 1994. Most recently, he received Best of Division for miniature sgraffito at the 2006 SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market.