Barbara Gonzales, Tahn-Moo-Whé (Sunbeam), eldest great-granddaughter of Maria & Julian and eldest granddaughter of Adam & Santana, is known for her signature Swish Pots & intricately incised black and red pieces, as well as polychrome pieces utilizing the recurring motif of a spider, symbolizing good luck. A serious potter for over forty years, Barbara has been making pottery since her early childhood, at which time she was living with Maria, who introduced her to clay.
Barbara’s first step into the international light as part of the Maria Family came in 1978, at the Renwick Gallery, Maria Martinez: Five Generations of Potters Exhibition. At the time Barbara was an aspiring young potter, who had recently adopted the spider as a recurring motif in her pieces, while also perfected what was quickly becoming her signature piece, the lucky swish pot.
The Swish Pot sits as an original in the pottery world for its fully enclosed, low and flat profile design, which when held and moved about in a circular motion creates a swishing sound, caused by the placement of loose natural stones inside the piece.
In the early 1980’s, Barbara began intentionally assigning gender to her design elements, in the form of Turquoise inlays denoting masculinity & Coral inlays denoting femininity. This idea over the years has integrated itself into the larger picture of Native American Art.
Barbara’s proactive participation in the community of San Ildefonso, and her involvement with other parts of Native America has extended her reputation well beyond her art and into diverse public service positions on the Tribal, City, County and State levels.
Barbara has & continues to lecture at museums & cultural events across the country while also making time to write as a freelancer.