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Michael Naranjo

Michael Naranjo grew up in Northern New Mexico in the Santa Clara Pueblo. His mother, Rose Naranjo, a talented potter, encouraged his passion for working with clay. Wanting to be a sculptor since childhood, Michael’s dreams were put on hold in 1967, when at the age of 22 he was sent with the US Army to fight in Vietnam. Due to an ambush, a grenade blinded Michael, and injured his right hand. While recovering from his wounds in a Japanese hospital, Michael began to work once again with clay. He found comfort in this practice, and knew he would be able to move on with his work and life.


After years of hard work and dedication, Michael has been recognized internationally. Michael was granted a Papal visit with Pope John Paul II in 1983, in which he presented his holiness with his sculpture, “Going Home.” In 1996 he was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Cultures and Arts Development.

Not only has he won numerous awards, but he has also used his work as a tool to mentor and inspire others. Leading workshops in schools and other organizations, he inspires those with and without disabilities to strive to do their best. He believes sculpture is meant to be touched, and encourages viewers to experience sculpture the way he sees, with their hands.