From the clay in the hills of the Middle Place to the hands of people around the world, the Carlos Laate-designed mug represents Zuni culture wherever its journey leads. This café-style ceramic mug is a replica of a single pot handcrafted by Carlos Laate of Zuni Pueblo, and the second entry in series two of the popular Pueblo Pottery Mugs available at Shumakolowa Native Arts, located inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC).
Carlos began making pottery around 1987, and also crafts jewelry and carvings. His destiny as an artist was almost certain, as his mother was a jeweler, his father a carver, leatherworker, and welder, and his grandmother and aunt renowned potters Daisy Hooee and Jennie Laate. “I got the inspiration from my grandparents, and my parents,” he says.
“My aunt and my grandmother, they were both famous potters,” Carlos tells with pride. “That’s where I picked it up.” Creating pottery came naturally for Carlos, his hands, heart, and clay seemingly destined to combine forces. “Once I got a hold of the clay, it just kind of came to me. I can make anything. I get a hold of the clay and start working with my hands, and I would just make anything out of clay.”
Carlos looks to ancient pots found in museums, and potsherds found while walking near his Zuni home, to inspire the designs of his work. It was his grandparents who explained the meanings behind the images he found. “What they taught me was that all the designs that are on the pot are the prayers we use in our daily lives – to have a good life, to have a successful life, and asking for longevity.”
The designs Carlos chose for his mug reflects these same blessings and prayers, carrying over to all who drink from it. He says he’s pleased to represent Zuni and Pueblo culture this way, and is thankful to everyone who buys one for supporting Pueblo culture and artists, and the IPCC.
“I’m representing Zuni Pueblo, and that design comes from Zuni, and that’s what makes me happy.”
It is by carrying on our traditions, and actively including our youth in them, that #WeShallContinue.
Additional background on the Pueblo pottery design mugs:
In 2015 five Pueblo potters were commissioned to commemorate the opening of the first Native American-owned Starbucks, located at Avanyu Plaza across the street from the IPCC, by each crafting a Starbucks-style clay mug to be exhibited in the store. There was such a strong public reaction and desire for ownership that ceramic versions bearing the original designs were put into production by Shumakolowa Native Arts, located inside the IPCC, with the Pueblo pottery design mugs becoming an immediate hit.
Four more Pueblo artist mugs comprising series two will be released in the coming months, with designs by Helen Bird of Santo Domingo, Denise Chavarria of Santa Clara, Carlos Laate of Zuni, and a collaboration from Lisa Holt of Cochiti and Harlan Reano of Santo Domingo. The second mug from series two, by Carlos Laate, is scheduled for release mid-January, 2018.
The series-two originals will soon join the first-series originals on display at Starbucks at Avanyu Plaza, located at 2400 12th Street NW, Albuquerque, across from IPCC. All of the participating artists receive royalties for each mug sold, with proceeds also supporting the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico.