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Mojave-Style Effigy Pottery

Pottery-making has thrived along the lower Colorado River for millennia. Traditionally, the Pipa Aha Macav (People by the River), also known as Mojave, created ceramic wear to carry and transport water for utilitarian purposes. Many Yuman people, especially the Mojave, began making items in response to the influx of tourists in the region selling items at the train stations in Needles, CA, and Yuma, AZ. The effigies reveal much about the cultural importance and significance of traditional facial tattoos and traditionally worn accouterment through the adornment of each piece. These works of art have made prehistoric, and contemporary Indigenous ceramics from the Southwest celebrated worldwide.

On day one of this workshop, you will be introduced to the clay you will work with and learn more about the history of Yuman pottery. For the next two days, you will learn to work with the clay by practicing making small pinch and coil pots using the paddle and anvil technique, using collected clay from the Colorado River that Tony will provide. Throughout the process you will learn how to construct the facial features on the effigies as well as the spouts that are a characteristic of this ceramic style. You will also learn to make the natural pigment paints to decorate the effigies and fire the pieces. Tony will discuss various topics throughout the workshop, including making and using a simple urban brick and charcoal briquette kiln, paint brush making, fire-starting by friction, and making palm frond rings (pottery stands). On the last day of class, you will work with Tony to create an outdoor kiln and fire your effigies. The course culminates with unearthing your beautiful finished ceramic works of art.

  • Small portable lamp (clamp is best)
  • Seat cushion

Tony Soares learned the fundamentals of pottery from his grandmother at age 7, starting more than a 40-year journey to revive the fading art of olla making. Though not of Cahuilla descent, he advocates reviving the art of Cahuilla pottery making through his experimentation with local clays and Indigenous hand-building techniques. Tony’s pottery is in art galleries, museums, and personal collections around the country, including the Tahquitz Canyon Museum. Tony shares his knowledge with local tribal communities and the general public to ensure that Native American pottery making is never lost. He has taught at many venues, including the Agua Caliente Band of the Desert Cahuilla of Palm Springs, The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ, and the Yuman tribes of the Colorado River, AZ.

Instagram: @tonysoarespottery

Native American & Inland Empire Teacher Scholarships 

We recently made some changes to our scholarship application process.

Generous donors have made scholarships and fellowships for adult workshops available on a limited basis for these specific groups:

  1. Native American Community Leaders, Artists, Members, and Teachers
  2. Inland Empire Teachers, Professors, and Graduate Students

Scholarships include tuition, lab fee, dorm housing, and all meals provided by the campus dining service. We believe in allowing everyone a chance to experience the transformative power of art at Idyllwild Arts. In order to reach as many as possible with this opportunity we are happy to extend each applicant one scholarship. These scholarships are designed to provide access to arts based educational opportunities that will advance your personal and professional development as well as the Indigenous community(ies) you come from. You are responsible for paying the $50 application fee and transportation to and from campus. A short essay (200 to 750 words) expressing how this opportunity will benefit you and your community is required, we want to hear from you! We also ask that you provide screenshots of your last two W2s so that the scholarship committee can identify financial need and assess the scholarship amount to be offered. We are pleased to offer scholarships in two categories.

  • Full Scholarship: students receive meals, housing, and tuition and lab fee (room and board if applicable).
  • Half Scholarship: students receive approximately half off their tuition (room and board if applicable)

For more detailed information and a Scholarship FAQ please read Adult Scholarships FAQs.

Scholarship Details: 

  1. Native American Community Members, Leaders, Artists, and Teachers
    For adults 19 and older with current tribal affiliation, the scholarship brings community leaders, artists, members, and teachers to workshops at Idyllwild Arts to benefit both the scholarship recipients themselves and those in their schools or tribal communities. Applicants who demonstrate financial need may receive priority. We also offer scholarships for Native American Teens for both the Summer Program and the Academy.
  2. Inland Empire Teachers, Professors, and Graduate Students
    For teachers and graduate students from the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and the adjacent areas), this scholarship brings teachers and graduate students to Idyllwild Arts to attend Native American Arts workshops. The Native American Arts Workshops benefit both recipients and their students and communities, providing culturally appropriate instruction and professional development to teachers and graduate students. Applicants with financial needs may receive priority. These scholarships are made possible through the generous support of the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians.

Click here for more information about adult scholarships.

Age: 19 years and above

Dates: June 12-16, 2023

Tuition, room, and board: $1,719

Day student tuition: $840

Lab Fee: $65, includes materials and use of a personal set of tools; you may be asked to bring additional materials.

Skill Level: All levels

Enrollment is limited to 10 students.

Faculty: Tony Soares

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