Michael Naranjo 

(1944 - )

One of ten children, Michael Naranjo, Santa Clara Pueblo sculptor, was born in 1944, and is the son of Santa Clara potter Rose Naranjo, the uncle of sculptor Roxanne Swentzell, and the brother of Jody Folwell and Rina Swentzell, who are also potters. These two sculptures were bought from Michael Naranjo via Neddra Matteucci Galleries in Santa, Fe, and are likely the only pair in any collection.

“Devil Dancer” 1989 ,  “Devil Dancer” 1975      Michael Naranjo (1944 - )    Bronze

Michael Naranjo was born in 1944 the son of Santa Clara Pueblo potter Rose Naranjo, the uncle of sculptor Roxanne Swentzell, and the brother of potters jody Folwell and Rina Swentzell. Michael grew up surrounded by this artistic family and the beauty of Northern New Mexico.  “I think we’re influenced from early on,” Michael says and that art lives within everyone but some people act on the impulse and begin to create.

While serving in Vietnam in the 1960’s, Michael was blinded by a grenade which also took away the use of his right hand. Determined to have a meaningful life, he turned to sculpture.  “Sculpture is what I wanted to do. Somehow it lends itself to touch. So it worked out, even with one hand and no eyes, I’m fortunate that I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do.” and  “ I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. I like my shoes.”

Michael was artist in residence at Verkamps Visitor Center at the Grand Canyon where he gave a workshop, lecture and created sculptures of two rams. “They let me look at their archives. I got to touch old things, like 4,000 year old sandals and cloth and an ancient sloth.”

In 1983 he was granted a Papal audience in Rome and in 1986 at the Galleria dell “Accademia in Florence, he was allowed to climb scaffolding and touch Michaelangelo’s “David”.

Naranjo’s bronzes have a trademark matte black patina – the color he sees  -  and are often described as imparting a sense of serenity. “My movements are slow,” he says, ”because if I  move too fast, I knock things over. There’s a gentleness to my life that probably carries over to my pieces .”