Robert Tenorio was born in 1950 into the Santo Domingo “Kewa” Pueblo. He has been working with clay since the age of 10. He was taught all the fundamentals of hand coiling pottery using ancient traditional methods from his family members. Lupe Tenorio shared some of her special techniques with Robert. He was also inspired to continue the long lived family tradition from the admiration he had for old pottery from his village. Robert is truly one of the greatest Santo Domingo potters of any generation. Robert specializes in hand coiled, traditional Santo Domingo pottery. He gathers his clay and other natural pigments from within the Santo Domingo Pueblo. Then, he soaks the clay, cleans, sifts, mixes, hand coils, shapes, sands, paints, and fires his pottery outdoors, using cottonwood bark. The colors he uses to paint his pottery with are basically derived from native plants also hand picked by Robert, which are boiled together to make the paint to complete his masterpieces. He hand coils many shapes and sizes of pottery like water vessels, dough bowls, and traditional pots. Robert is continuously experimenting with different types of plants in hopes of making the special black color which was used as the pigment on pottery several hundred years ago. He signs his pottery as: Robert Tenorio followed by a small dipper star formation, and Kewa. He is related to: Paulita Pacheco (sister), Gilbert Pacheco (brother-in-law), Hilda Coriz (sister), Ione Coriz (niece), and Juanita Tenorio (mother).
Robert’s pottery began winning awards in 1967. He received two First Place Awards at the 2004 Santa Fe Indian Market. He has received awards for pottery entered in the Heard Museum Show, Eight Northern Pueblos as well as other shows. In 2003, he placed first at the Eight Northern Pueblo Arts & Crafts Show. Awards keep coming his way.
Publications: Talking With The Clay by Stephen Trimble (2007); Southwestern Pottery, by Allan Hayes & John Blom; Hopi-Tewa Pottery: 500 Artist Biographies by Dr. Gregory Schaaf; Southern Pueblo Pottery: 2000 Artist Biographies, by Dr. Gregory Schaaf.