Barbara & Joseph Cerno
b. 1951 & 1947
Joseph and Barbara Cerno, a husband-and-wife team from Acoma Pueblo in western New Mexico, are everywhere recognized as contemporary artists of the first rank. They are among some of the finest potters of this or any era.
Barbara, of half Hopi heritage, was introduced to the craft by her Acoma mother-in-law, Santana. She refined her art by consulting with her Hopi relatives and friends and adapting some of their methods to the fine Acoma clays. Joseph was also taught the craft by his mother, from whom he learned both the material and spiritual aspects of the Acoma tradition of pottery making.
The Cernos' patient and painstaking pottery-making process can take as much as a year to complete. They are at the same time both deeply traditional and highly innovative in their approach to their art. They studied the ancient pottery shards found at the pueblo in order to capture the traditional styles of their ancestors and have dedicated many hours of experimentation in perfecting their contemporary skill and artistry.
Their usually large pots are exquisitely made. Symmetric and thin-walled they are among the finest that pottery can produce. Their decorative designs are based on traditional motifs, the parrot and fertility symbols banded and interlaced with lines and ribbons that are solidly and flawlessly painted. Joseph diligently verifies ancestral designs to apply to the ollas while Barbara brings the designs to life through her gifted painting.
The Cernos are justifiably acclaimed for their perfectly formed, precisely and brilliantly painted parade pots. They sign their pottery as "Acoma, NM, Barbara & Joseph Cerno" followed by the year the pot was made. They have won numerous awards at the Santa Fe Indian Market, the New Mexico State fair and on many other occasions.