Jared Tso comes from a long line of Diné potters, but before fully embracing his creative legacy, he studied electrical engineering at the University of New Mexico (UNM) and then worked full-time in the field.
All the while, though, he practiced with clay on his own, seeking advice from his father about Diné methods of collecting, coiling, and pit-firing clay. Pottery, says Tso, "was something I almost instinctually knew I’d pursue," and in 2018, he decided to return to UNM to pursue an MFA.
Tso crafts his vessels primarily by hand but says he resists conceptions of "authenticity as relying on some re-creation of the past," and by deploying contemporary technology such as 3-D printing, he’s situating his designs in a long history of innovation.
"Every time I make a pot, I am contributing to the definition of what Navajo pottery is, and that comes with a lot of power."
Read the full Q&A with Jared Tso below.
Hometown: Spokane, Washington.
Describe what you make in 140 characters. I specialize in Diné Pottery. I focus on traditionally methods and have started to branch out into sculpture, furniture, and jewelry.
What’s the last thing you designed? The last thing I designed was a stew bowl using corrugated pottery techniques.
Do you have a daily creative ritual? An early start accompanied by a hot beverage.
How do you procrastinate? I procrastinate by making projects for my home. Lately it has been structures for our live stock. Before that, it was furniture to fit the more unique angles of our space.
What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? Vessels with flat bottoms.
Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? My late father and my mother. In design, also my father, Faye Tso, Virgil Ortiz, Tammy Garcia, and Christine McHorse.
What skill would you most like to learn? Casting metal. This is a current direction I would like to pursue.
What is your most treasured possession? My father's regalia.
What’s your earliest memory of an encounter with design? From an early age I would watch my dad create. From sewing, beadwork, sand paintings, drawing, painting, or clay, he was always creating and it was something I naturally wanted to imitate.
What contemporary design trend do you despise? There seems to be an overarching rule that everything moves toward the abstract.
Finish this statement: All design should... not exist in an absolute statement.
What’s in your dream house? Rammed earth. Lots of windows, with plenty of family and studio space. I would want the house to be able to house the ceramics I have collected as well as many of the 2D works that I have from my favorite artists.
You can learn more about Jared Tso on his Instagram.
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