Glendora Fragua is recognized as one of today’s top Pueblo potters. Her pottery is elegant and sophisticated, with precision sgraffito on hand coiled and highly-polished red and buff clay vessels. They are masterpieces in form and design. Her designs, which echo the classic Pueblo designs - kiva steps, spirit figures, rain symbols and corn - are uniquely her own.
"I use the cornstalk in many of my pieces," says Glendora. "It represents my family's origin in the Corn Clan of the Jemez Pueblo." Glendora is proud of her family, many of whom are also involved in the arts. She learned how to make pottery from her mother, Juanita Fragua, a well-known and recognized potter. Glendora's grandmother, Beninga Medina Madelena, who came from the Zia Pueblo, has been credited as helping revive pottery making at Jemez. Glendora's sister B.J. is also a potter and her brother Clifford is a well-known sculptor.
"My work is contemporary," says Glendora "but, my methods are traditional. We gather clay from the Pueblo and temper it with volcanic ash. Our traditional paints are from the earth. The building and polishing are all done by hand." Her only nod to technology is the use of a kiln to fire her finished work.
Glendora Fragua was born in St. Louis, Missouri and her early years were spent in San Francisco, California. In the 1970s, she moved back with her family to the Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico. At the age of 16, Glendora was developing her own pottery style, using natural clays and slips and experimenting with a scratch technique known as sgraffito. Sgraffito carving requires a steady hand for the delicate, intricate and precise designs.
“The designs I use are my own,” says Glendora. After building and polishing her pots, she incises the designs into the highly polished surface. Parts of the designs may then be painted with red, buff and sometimes micaceous slips, her cornstalk trademark is added to the bottom of each piece, and then the pots are fired.
Glendora is meticulous in her work on her pottery and the finishes. In order to achieve the crispness in polish colors and incision, she often adds more details and slips, polishing more and more until she is totally satisfied with the results! Glendora’s pottery is exceptional in shape, form and design and, while identifiable with her signature style, is also ever-changing in subtle, yet striking ways. She gets very excited to try new slips, design patterns and shapes and has recently added acrylic paints to her repertoire, accenting her pottery with a whole new color spectrum.
For a period, she worked as Glendora Daubs and many collectors still know her under this past married name. Glendora has received numerous awards for her work at prestigious shows including the Santa Fe and Dallas Indian Markets, the Heard and Eiteljorg Museum markets and the Gallup Intertribal Indian Ceremonial.