Sculpting From Within: The Art of Estella Loretto

By Theresa Bevin, July 2011

For the art lover, standing before one of Estella Loretto’s monumental pieces is not an ordinary experience. For those who appreciate all the aspects of inspired beauty, the effect is instantaneous and profound. One immediately senses that the piece is not merely an example of impeccable craftsmanship, masterful execution, or an interesting blend of shapes and color, but a great deal more. The awareness that the creation that enters the eye and touches so deeply has a soul of its own is undeniable and startling.

Estella Loretto is an accomplished sculptress, a painter, a designer, a craft woman, and a jewelry maker, but it is especially in her sculptures that her extraordinary talents live and breathe as a force of nature. The figures are men, women, children, or animals, each and every one of them blessed with extraordinary character and sensitivity. Their creator takes clay in her hands with obvious reverence and immerses herself in the process, without haste, in complete serenity, lost in the act of creation, standing back occasionally as a new mother in rapture before the miracle that has emerged from her body. One has the sense that Estella is not so much at work, but that she is re-creating herself and her healing environment by expressing her unbound love for Mother Earth and her creatures. She depicts the tradition of her pueblo people with devotion, and profound gratitude. She brings to life bronzes that talk to us in her native Towa, to tell us how they are here to preserve a culture, to pay homage to Earth-loving tradition, to make us aware of what surrounds us, and to cherish it.

At home, Estella is the master of her environment. Her garden is populated by some of her most poignant guardians. Her “Peaceful Warrior” looms above others, a gentle giant that watches over an impressive garden as well as the birds that nest inside his hand-held drum. Next to him, “Re-awakening” is caught in the middle of his dance. Her latest creations, the rain dancers, inspire tranquility as they gently turn their heads in response to the breeze while her hummingbirds fill the space with color and wonder. Inside, “Having Faith” inspires contemplation, while many other bronzes stand, self-possessed in their beauty.

Estella Loretto represents the soul and magic of New Mexico, but especially her Jemez Pueblo people with quiet pride and devotion. Her art is an awe-inspiring experience that should not be missed.

Blessed Kateri graces LA Times Travel Section

In a feature story about Santa Fe, NM, Estella Loretto’s monumental bronze, “Blessed Kateri,” graced the front page of the Travel Section of the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, October 3rd, 2010.

Read excerpt of the Article


“Her works reflects fluidity… departing from traditional images” – Albuquerque Journal, December 14, 2008

“Walatowa Shaping our Stories” – The Sunday Albuquerque Journal, December 14, 2008

“Having Faith” “…Even her timeless looks make age seem irrelvant.” – Art Works Magazine / Voice of the Arts, Spring 2007

“100 Artists of the Southwest” – Douglas Bullis, Schiffer Publishing Co., 2006

“She has breathed artistic life into bronze sculpture found in collections across the country and internationally” – New Mexico Traveler, 2006

“Santa Fe – The City of Holy Faith / The Santa Fe Experience” – New Mexico Traveler, 2005

“A New Mexico Sculptor Breaks Through to National Visibility” – Southwest Art Magazine, 2003

“Artist’s Interiors: Creative Spaces, Inspired Living” – Laurie Dicksen, Quarry Books, 2003

“Building for the Future” – “…Loretto offers ‘Morning Prayer” sculpture for protection of students and staff at the Santa Fe Indian School.” – The Santa Fe New Mexican, 2003

“Artists at Home – Inspired Ideas from the Homes of New Mexico Artists” – Book featuring Estella Loretto, published 2003

“Hoping for Sainthood” – Albuquerque Journal, August 17, 2003

“The Lily of the Mohawks – “…Estella Loretto assumes new prominence in Santa Fe & the West” ” – Santa Fe New Mexican’s Pasatiempo, August 15-21, 2003

“New Face for St. Francis Cathedral” – The New Mexican, May 6, 2003

“Artist Estella Loretto with Archbishop Michael Sheehan …at the unveiling of Blessed Kateri Tekawitha” – Albuquerque Journal, August 2002

“The Art of Bronze Casting” – Native Peoples Magazine, October 2000

“I am committed to the passion of the creative expression.” – The New Mexico Millennium Collection – A Twenty-First Century Celebration of Fine Art in New Mexico, Fresco Fine Art Publications, 2000, pp. 117

“A Peak into the Sanctuary where Women Artists Live, Work, & Pray” – Mountain Living Magazine, October, 1999

“Pueblo Artists:Portraits” – Toba Tucker, The Museum of New Mexico Press, 1998

“Artist, Sculptor, Entrepreneur” – Native Monthly Reader, Volume 9, Issue 6 1997-1998

“Art Bringing People Together” – Living City Magazine, June, 1995

“Pioneer Takes Another Bold Leap” – Albuquerque Journal, August 17, 1995

“Estella Loretto, A Gentle Spirit” – New York Times, December, 1995

“Meeting Estella Loretto is like coming face to face with the all but forgotten peace and harmony within oneself” – American Indian Business Magazine, June 15, 1994

“Working on the Good Life” – The New Mexican, June 28, 1993

“Pray and Show Respect for the Earth” – The Santa Fe New Mexican Indian Market Issue, August, 1993

“The Portrait of an Artist” – Institute of American Indian Arts, 1992

“The Business of Indian Art” – Albuquerque Journal, August 16, 1992

Gift for President Ronald Reagan: “Ms. Loretto was named outstanding American Indian Artist, 1980” – Buffalo Evening News, May 20, 1991

“Legends in their Own Time – Native American Art Entrepreneurs” – The New Mexican, Summer, 1991

“Enduring Cultures: A Century of Photography of the Southwest Indians” – Clear Light Publishing, 1990

“Listening to the Clay – Sculptor Reflects Life Harmonies” – Albuquerque Journal, August 1990

“The Best in Southwest Style” – Phoenix Home & Garden, November 1988

“Living on the Red Road” – The Spokesman Review, Spokane, WA, December 05, 1985

“Expressing… through Art: …interpretations of traditions…” – National Geographic, March, 1982

“Sculptor Shapes her Dreams” – New Mexico Magazine, January, 1981

“Perfectionist gleans great wisdom” – Taos Magazine, Fall 1980

Artist Profile: “Estella revealed her natural gifts as an artist at a vary early age.” – John Eagleday, 1980

“Sculptor Reflects on Harmonies of Life” – Albuquerque Journal, 1980