Cara Romero (Chemehuevi), Kaa, 2017, Archival pigment print on legacy fibre photography paper, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Bequest of Virginia Doneghy, by exchange, and gift of funds from Christopher Cardozo, 2019.64, © Cara Romero
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Cara Romero (Chemehuevi) collaborated with her model, Kaa Folwell, an artist from a renowned family of Santa Clara potters, to develop this image that personifies the spirit “Clay Lady.” Clay Lady provides Tewa potters with clay. She represents empowerment, and though she is warm and inviting, she is unpredictable when fired. Folwell’s hair, captured at 1/8000 of a second, embodies the moment clay chemically changes to a hard solid. The Ancestral Puebloan design overlaying her body represents “how the spirit of clay . . . [is] passed down . . . through thousands of years,” Romero says. “There’s a way to do figurative art and to empower ourselves . . . I think it’s a . . . powerful shift for a woman to be behind the camera.”