High on the mesas of Hopiland lives one of the most successful potters today. His name is Lawrence Namoki, and he is considered to be one of the best contemporary potters to come out of the Hopi people. His pottery is recognized throughout the world.
Lawrence resides in First Mesa (Polacca), Arizona. He grew up in the village of Walpi until he started attending high school off the reservation at Phoenix Indian High School in Phoenix, AZ. After completion of High School, he enlisted in the Army and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. He served and trained with Special Forces (Green Berets). After completion of his Armed Forces duty he returned home to be among his people.
His first attempt at the Hopi art was carving Kachina dolls. He was a successful doll carver. His reputation as a highly successful miniature Kachina doll carver brought him fame in the art world.
Lawrence wanted more challenges in Hopi art, so in 1983 he challenged himself to be a successful potter. He took two years practicing with natural clay. In 1985, he made his debut at the Eight Northern Pueblos Artists and Craftsmen Show in San Ildefonso, New Mexico. He entered a masterpiece pottery, “Hopi Ceremonial Calender” and the result was “Governor’s Award-Best of Show.”
In 1996, two of his pots became part of the Smithsonian Institute permanent collection which again brought more fame and recognition on the international level of the art world. At this time, more of his pots are being added to the permanent collections of Museums, galleries and private collectors. One of his pots is in the home of one of the Royal Family of England.
“I only attend one public show a year and that’s the famous Santa Fe Indian Market sponsored by S.W.A.I.A. I attend this show because of the competition from other artists. This market will show me where I’m at on a scale level as compared to other artists. The type of artwork I do cannot be taught in any educational institute. Only a true Hopi can do what I do and he must understand the Hopi culture and the life of a Hopi to do such artwork of this type. All my artwork on pottery is based on Hopi Culture and Myths.”
Lawrence is involved in many sacred ceremonies within his Hopi village of Walpi, so it takes some of his time away from pottery. There is no end to his artwork on traditionally made pottery, so Lawrence is working on pottery every day of his life.
Sadly, Lawrence Namoki passed away in 2020. He will be greatly missed, but his artwork will continue to be cherished for years to come.