Traver Gallery is pleased to present Native Influence: Tony Jojola’s Life of Impact, a group exhibition curated by John Drury. The artists featured in this exhibition are Larry Ahvakana, Marcus Amerman, Ryan! Feddersen, Dan Friday, Raya Friday, Tony Jojola, Ramson Lomatewama, Ira Lujan, Robert “Spooner” Marcus, and Raven Skyriver.
Please join us at the gallery for the public opening and the First Thursday Art Walk on April 6, 5–8 pm. Artists will be present.
Situated in the picturesque Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico, Tony Jojola was raised on the Isleta Pueblo, where he was born Thur-Shun, in 1958. Jojolo was surrounded by art his whole life. As a very young child, Tony would help collect and stoke the fires with the cow dung used to fire his grandmother’s pottery. But it was at the knee of his grandfather – a potter and silversmith – that Jojola would realize as a young man – that he too would dedicate his life to creative study in the visual arts and the celebration of his unique Pueblo heritage. His explorations in pottery and photography would soon give way to his lifelong passion for glass as a material.
Jojola discovered glass while in residence at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe in 1975. Here, Tony would meet fellow pioneers in native glass, Carl Ponca (Osage) and Larry “Ulaaq” Ahvakana (Inupiaq). A scholarship to attend the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine would soon follow, igniting what became a passion for travel.
Having received his Associate of Fine Arts degree from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), Tony went on to spend a summer at the Pilchuck Glass School that same year, 1978. It was the beginning of a long relationship with the prestigious facility. At Pilchuck, Tony met his friend and mentor Dale Chihuly (who had, incidentally, built the shop at IAIA). By 1983, Tony had earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the College of Santa Fe. Upon graduating, Tony would spend the remainder of 1983 and 1984 traveling in Mexico and South America. He spent the summers of 1985, 1986, and 1987 – working for and participating in workshops at the Pilchuck Glass School.
Included in our exhibition Native Influence: Tony Jojola’s Life of Impact is a very early and important example of his work with electroplated glass, the result of a course he had attended in 1986 with artist Michael Glancy. Dale Chihuly would later employ Jojola as part of the team creating his Persians series, assisting Italian maestro Lino Tagliapietra.
Tony began developing a passion for teaching during a six-month residency at what is now the Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center in New Jersey. At Wheaton, he produced more than a thousand examples of the possibilities and surface treatments of glass – a visual recording that he would use in revealing the material of glass to others. Jojola would subsequently spend more than a decade directing a glass facility in Taos, NM (another facility made possible by Dale Chihuly) where he would teach youth to create objects from glass. Returning to his beloved Isleta Pueblo, Tony would dedicate his remaining years to his personal practice. He shared his work annually at the state’s Indian markets, most notably in Santa Fe, and at museums and galleries nationally. In 2000 there was a major retrospective of his work at the Wheelwright Museum (Santa Fe).
A last significant effort, indicative of his love for exposing the talents of his indigenous community of glassmakers, is the landmark exhibition, Clearly Indigenous. Originating at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, this exhibition is a first of its kind survey of Indigenous participation in the studio glass movement in America. Tony played an essential role in the show’s development, sharing his deep personal knowledge of the subject with the exhibition curators, Letitia Chambers and Cathy Short. The show, scheduled to travel through 2026, is currently installed at the Wichita Art Museum.
Most recently, The Institute of American Indian Arts has announced the Chihuly Scholarship, underwritten by the Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation in memory IAIA alum, artist Tony Jojola (Isleta Pueblo) ’76 .