“My creative energy is often spiritual in nature. Each of my sculptures invariably represent some aspect of praise and appreciation for life’s beauty. Since my Pueblo religion restricts the realistic unveiling of ceremonial life, the challenge is to use abstract art to represent the sacred; images that specifically capture a reflection of my spirituality and expressions of my intercession with the Creator.”
Joe Cajero, Jr. was born in 1970 and raised in the Pueblo of Jemez. His family includes a long line of Pueblo artists, including his father, a painter, and his mother, a potter. Joe learned the business of marketing art from his mother and was challenged to try clay sculpture. While growing up, Cajero also listened to the wonderful stories his grandmother would tell, which provided him with a solid foundation in his traditional culture and continue to inform the work he does today.
Joe assumed he would follow in the lines of his father and become a painter, but his mother’s invitation to try creating from a lump of clay – which turned into a little bear that sold immediately – changed his mind. His new interest took him to the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe after high school, where he studied two-dimensional art and traditional pottery making. His mentor and cousin, Felix Vigil, was teaching there at the time and provided the young artist with priceless insight: ” To look inside myself… to find inspiration. I admire the work of other artists, but I look only to myself to create.” Although Cajero continues to make the smiling koshare figures he is internationally known for, he constantly strives to challengie himself to try new techniques and imagery.
In recent years, Cajero has begun making limited edition bronze figures. Bronze work has led to the opening of new creative doors for the artist. “It seems I’ve been developing my skills in clay to lead me to work in bronze, and working with bronze has enhanced my skills with natural clay.”
He has won numerous awards from the Santa Fe Indian Market and the Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market. Joe Cajero, Jr. was named a Local Treasure by the Albuquerque Art Business Association and the City of Albuquerque, for his contributions to the arts community. His work is nationally collected.