A leading force in the relatively new ( for Native American artists) medium of stone sculpture, Cliff Fragua has been honored by numerous awards and prestigious commissions. He was selected by the State of New Mexico to install a sculpture of Popé, the leader of the 1600’s Pueblo Revolt, in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. That is just one of his many pieces; others are featured in public locations, such as the Albuquerque International Airport, and in permanent collections throughout the country.
His family includes his mother, Juanita, and sisters Glendora and Betty Jean (B.J.); all celebrated potters. Although he began working in pottery and painting, Cliff studied under the late, great Allen Houser, at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and found his true vocation. Working with stone is using a gift of Mother Earth, and he says “It has its own spirit, and I have to honor that spirit….The honesty and purity of stone permits me to express myself from the heart”.
His pieces range from small tabletop sculptures to larger than life works in a variety of stones. Lately, he has even created pieces in glass, as well as bronze editions of his stone sculpture. His creative energy extends to promoting Native sculpture and arts: a past president of the Indian Arts and Crafts Association (a national organization), he is also a co-founder of the Indigenous Sculptors Society. Cliff Fragua is a pre-eminent name in Native art.