Speaking truthfully: Santa Fe-based photographer, potter featured on 'Craft in America' series about identity - Albuquerque Journal

Speaking truthfully: Santa Fe-based photographer, potter featured on ‘Craft in America’ series about identity

Cara Romero captures a portrait of her nephews. (Courtesy of PBS)

Cara and Diego Romero have each carved out their own niches in art.

Cara Romero as a photographer, Diego Romero as a potter.

Within their respective mediums, each is able to tell a story of identity.

This is why the two were chosen to be in “Craft in America: Identity” series, which premieres at 10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27, on New Mexico PBS Channel 5.

The documentary series explores the beauty, significance and relevance of handmade objects and the artists who make them.

The episode featuring both Santa Fe-based artists looks at how we define ourselves: What combinations of work, ethnicity, nationality, family and heritage go into the sum of who we are?

“I wanted to do it because this is a pure and personal way to tell the story,” Cara Romero says. “The director met up with Diego first and then discovered that we are both artists and we have this very loving relationship.”

Diego Romero is known for his pottery, which often has a message about identity.

He is a member of Cochiti Pueblo.

“I am an Indian. I am a white man, too. Am I this white kid who grew up in Berkeley? Or am I this Johnny-come-lately, back-to-the-village, born-again Indian? I think I’m neither and I’m both,” he says.

Santa Fe-based potter Diego Romero sands a vessel for the series “Craft in America: Identity.” (Courtesy of Lissa Claffey)

Diego Romero makes art that transcends his Native American heritage by combining traditional materials, techniques and forms of ancient Mimbres, Anasazi and Greek pottery with comic book-inspired imagery, to talk about contemporary issues.

He is a self-proclaimed “chronologist on the absurdity of human nature,” whose comic narratives venture into taboo areas of politics, environment, racism, alcoholism, love, life and loss.

His trademark Chongo Brothers characters connect his work to Pop Art, inviting the viewer to look at Native Indian pottery in a new way.

His work is in the collection of the British Museum, among other world-class museums.

Meanwhile, Cara is a member of the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe of the Chemehuevi Reservation (a branch of the Southern Paiute) of the Mojave Desert in Californa.

She is outspoken on indigenous cultural and environmental issues.

Her complex and nuanced images combine traditional iconography with a contemporary perspective, bringing past, present and future into consideration. The artist orchestrates a balancing act in her photography by rewriting stories of Indian identity, battling cultural misappropriation, and confronting stereotypes, particularly of Native women, all the while preserving tradition and maintaining cultural sensitivity.

“Growing up on the reservation rests at the heart of who you are as a human being. It informs everything that you are, going forward in life,” Cara Romero says.

Cara Romero started in photography in 1998 and worked in black-and-white film as a cultural anthropology major.

“I wanted to tell a modern story of Native people,” she says. “Those stories are what makes us who we are today. These are the things that are very true to myself.”

“Craft in America” crews shot for about a week with each of the artists.

Both were comfortable with the process.

“It’s nice for someone to see my art,” Diego Romero says. “Getting a chance to speak about it is an added bonus. I kind of feel that I do say it with the art, but this gave me the opportunity to expand on my views.”

Diego Romero says working on his art is like putting a puzzle together.

“I have all these ideas in my head,” he says. “Some things are more important than others. Some are more relevant. Since I do historical, environmental and modern pueblo human narratives, I have all these subcategories as well.”

Cara Romero hopes the series will start and expand conversations about identity.

“I’m also excited for people to actually pronounce my tribe name,” she says.

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.

Home » Entertainment » Arts » Speaking truthfully: Santa Fe-based photographer, potter featured on ‘Craft in America’ series about identity


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Metalwork artist work inspired by the sense of home ...
Arts
Santa Fe native Hernan Gomez Chavez ... Santa Fe native Hernan Gomez Chavez works in copper, bronze or stainless steel.
2
NHCC Foundation names John Martinez as new leader
Arts
The National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation ... The National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation has new leadership. Albuquerque-native John Martinez is set to be the President/CEO of the foundation, which is fundraising ...
3
Film to document 100 years of Zozobra in 2024
Arts
In two years, the 100th anniversary ... In two years, the 100th anniversary of Zozobra will take place. On Monday, Hutton Broadcasting announced its collaboration with the Kiwanis Club of Santa ...
4
Miss O'Keeffe's home sweet home
Arts
Beautiful Chama River Valley drew artist ... Beautiful Chama River Valley drew artist to Abiquiú
5
UNM represented at Italian art exhibition
Arts
It's a first for the University ... It's a first for the University of New Mexico. An artist group created the project 'a Library, a Classroom, and the World,' which is ...
6
'The Lies I Tell' is a hard-to-put-down thriller
Arts
For the reader, the book's revelations ... For the reader, the book's revelations lead to questions about the possible gray area of doing what's 'wrong' in order to make things right.
7
Three NM campsites named 'Best Places to Camp' by ...
Arts
Sierra Vista, a dispersed camping site ... Sierra Vista, a dispersed camping site near Las Cruces within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument; the currently closed Rio Chama Campground near the ...
8
New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum unveils new ...
Arts
The Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, ... The Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, located at 4100 Dripping Springs Road in Las Cruces, has a collection around 400 pieces which continues to ...
9
Santa Fe Opera bringing Rossini's comedy classic to the ...
Arts
The Santa Fe Opera will stage ... The Santa Fe Opera will stage 'The Barber of Seville' beginning on Saturday, July 2.