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Born in Taos, New Mexico in 1962, Roxanne is from the well-known Santa Clara Pueblo, Naranjo family of artists. “A shy girl who observed and listened to people, but would not talk. Roxanne learned to communicate her feelings to others by creating clay figures”.
While still in High School, Roxanne attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM and later the Portland Museum Art School in Portland, Oregon.
Troubled by conflicts of cultural differences and becoming a professional artist, Rox found a comfortable place within herself as a human being. Her mother Rina states, “There’s hope in the world if we don’t do things thoughtlessly, if we still remember some deeper and more basic values. Whatever we do, we need to walk carefully. That’s what Roxanne is trying to do.” She came back “home” to Santa Clara Pueblo where she lives today, and built herself and her two children a house. She participates in the Pueblo life and ceremonies of her clan and continues to do her art.
Her clay sculptures have been delighting audiences and winning awards since her early twenties. Swentzell was 22 when she first displayed her works at the annual Indian Market in Santa Fe. There, in 1986, she won a total of eight awards for her unique sculpture and pottery, and in 1994, she also won the market’s Creative Excellence in Sculpture award. Among her most popular works is the “Emergence of the Clowns”, which toured the US, Canada and New Zealand as a part of the Heard Museum’s exhibition, “Shared Visions”, and showed at the White House in the exhibition “Twentieth Century American Sculpture at the White House”.