By Emily Van Cleve
Su Casa Magazine
Winter 2003 Vol. 9 No. 1
The Embodiment Of PrayerPeaceful Placitas, tucked in the foothills just north of Albuquerque, provides the perfect artistic environment for award-winning sculptor Joe Cajero. A member of the Pueblo of Jemez and a descendant of a long line of artists, Cajero conveys his culture’s deep spiritual beliefs through figures that abstractly represent the sacred. He premiered his latest piece, “The Embodiment of Prayer,” at the 2002 Santa Fe Indian Market. It won second place in its category.
“This masculine deity is the embodiment of all our prayers,” he gently says of the 19-inch bronze sculpture. “His mouth is extended because he is singing for all of creation. His headpiece represents the blue sky of day as well as the heavens. Upon completion of the piece, I came to the realization that spirituality is not about what you add to your life. It’s about what you strip away and let go of. I am constantly working towards letting go of that which is stifling me spiritually.”
Cajero is in the process of making a six-foot version of the sculpture. The large limited edition piece, which will come with a stone base, can be placed inside a home or outside on a patio. “This is the first time I’ve created a piece of this size,” he says with excitement. “I already have clients interested in it.”
There’s a playful side to Cajero that he expresses in the creation of whimsical Pueblo clowns called kosharis. He personalizes these small figures when requested. One client, a golfer from Santa Fe, asked for a koshari to come with golf clubs and balls. Other clients have asked for entire scenes with storytellers, children, and animals that remind them of their beloved pets. Although a family member occasionally helps out in Cajero’s home studio, the 31-year-old artist primarily works alone. “My favorite time to work is in the very early morning before nature wakes up,” he says. “It’s a meditative time of the day when the creative juices are flowing.”