The nature of Pueblo creativity is where explicitness, or verbal teaching, is not as important as being aware, watching, feeling, capability and doing. The words of a Pueblo woman who talked about pottery making are important here, “First of all, I would feed cornmeal of all colors to the butterflies, because they know how to make themselves beautiful.” Butterflies naturally breathe the po-wa-ha and know, without intense contemplation, how to be beautiful. They create beauty not because it is the most easy but the most essential thing to do.
Pueblo people find meaning in relationships between themselves and others. Giving and receiving smiles and kind words are the way to be in the world. Awareness of others is very important. Community members acknowledge each other with hugs, smiles and stories, before any studio activity begins. Each person becomes a part of the whole interacting group, before individual work on any project begins. Stories and assurances with humor and sincerity are exchanged throughout the class.
Reciprocal love and caring are important as part of an old Tewa Pueblo song tells:
Here you have come
We lay our lives out
So that we my be loved…
For that we ask.
Life and creativity are inseparable. To have a special word for creativity, for art, would make it small and separate. The closest word in Tewa for a creative activity is “to make,” to be in the process of a making. It is a matter of making things, anything, well. It is not an outside, extra thing. Again, the most essential goal is not the production of objects but the living of life.
In the traditional Pueblo world, harmony within one’s social and natural context is essential to the making of meaningful creations. These creations cannot be just ornamental or decorative. They are part of the spiritual experience of being in alignment with the po-wa-ha. Things made by human hands flow through the soul of the maker and are an expression of that person’s soul and it’s relatedness to the cosmos.
Here, at Poeh, old rhythms of life and ways of making beauty are still important. People bring beauty through interactions—laughing, through doing, talking—through quietness, gentleness and caring. Here, competition is not as important as seeing the rhythms and patterns of another person’s hands showing their own sense of beauty. Here, we know that everyone can make their own beauty with love, care- andlaughter.
Beauty is defined as harmony between the parts of any whole; there is a natural way to move through life which is to sense all that is around you, to acknowledge others and to give and take in a respectful manner. Beauty, then, is not so much in any one person or product as it is in the process, the manner in which anything is done. A person can walk, talk or make beautiful things if there is full awareness of the surrounding world, including other humans, rocks or mountains. Awareness or respectful acknowledgment of the place, people, and circumstances is necessary to BEING beautiful.