American Indian Pottery
Pottery | Alvina Yepa (b.1954)
Artist: American Indian PottersDescription: Left: 7”h x 8”w; Right: 6”h x 8”w
Famed Jemez Pueblo potter, Alvina Yepa, won First Place and Best of Division for her sgraffito style pottery at the 1987 Santa Fe Indian Market just a few years after she began producing pottery on her own in the early eighties. However, at the age of eight she earned her stripes painting and polishing pieces for her mother, Felipita Nonche Yepa.
Sgraffito style of pottery is made by scratching the surface to reveal lower layers of contrasting color. These pots are embellished with both sgraffito and painted features such as feathers, butterflies, clouds, serpents, pueblos and horizons.
Vase with Raised Corn Maiden Embellishment | Al Qöyawayma
Artist: American Indian PottersDescription: Timeless, elegant, sensuous, perfection, sublime, ancient and yet modern - are some of the metaphors used by collectors to describe Al Qöyawayma's (otherwise referred to as Al "Q") pottery. Nothing quite like Al's pottery has ever existed before. As with Native traditions, his pottery tradition runs deep. Contemplative and studiously quite at times, at other times he is quite gregarious, especially when describing his passion for the clay and its heritage.
Al has traveled a rather circuitous path in arriving at this point in his creative life. Along that path he has acquired significant tools of modern knowledge, but at the same time maintained a profound appreciation of his cultural roots. This is sometimes a paradox to those who know him.
Thoroughly a modern man, Al is equally at ease in today's high tech and tribal worlds. He strives to maintain a balance between those two worlds.
Al credits his pottery style to his late Aunt Polingaysi Qöyawayma, better known as Elizabeth White, a diversified talent - educator, writer and potter. In 1966 while working with the clay Elizabeth said "you've got it." Al notes: "That has always stuck with me", even though at the time I
wasn't sure what I had.". By 1976 Al had entered the "Scottsdale National Indian Art Show" and as they say "the rest was history."
In the 1980's, Al showed jointly in Santa Fe with his relative Charles Loloma, to whom Al credits considerable influence and encouragement. In the highly charged markets of the 1980's Al experienced instant sellout shows. Both Charles and Elizabeth related that it was their idea to use their backgrounds as stepping stones to project beyond all Indianisms, to blend tradition with contemporary expression. And, that is part of the philosophy behind Al's pottery creations.
"My style tends towards that of a minimalist. I use the repousse' technique on native clay to produce pieces of pristine, fluid form, with high sculptural relief. The finish is stone polished producing the hue and shadow of high desert landscape, and softness to the touch. I use many motifs such as ancient architecture, dancing figures, and icons such as corn, animal and feather designs. My clays are from Hopi. Through study of
our ancient Sikyatki ceramics I've been able to closely reproduce an original clay. Using this clay and traditional coiling techniques allows me to construct complex, thin, lightweight forms."
Sikyatki - Al explains that his Coyote Clan was the sole occupant of the ancient village of Sikyatki. Their origins, language, religion and traditions were different than the Hopi we know today. Sikyatki pottery is
known for it's low shouldered forms and intricate designs. Jesse Walter Fewkes of the Smithsonian excavated Sikyatki in 1895. Fewkes stated that "...In my judgement [Sikyatki ceramic art] is superior to any pottery made
by ancient... Indians north of Mexico." With those roots it is perhaps only natural that Al's ceramic creative skills should emerge.
It is Al's grandmother, Sevenka, who passed down the families spiritual challenge: "We do not walk alone, Great Spirit walks beside us, always know this, and be grateful." Al lives by that Grace and acknowledges the Creator's hand in all parts of his life.
Bear Relief Wide and Low Profile | Al Qöyawayma
Artist: American Indian Potters
Seed Pots | Sylvia Naha (1951-1999)
Artist: American Indian PottersDescription: Clay | Heights Range from 3.5” - 6”
Once regarded as an innovator among Hopi potters who hand-painted her white clay polished surfaces with intricate designs of lizards, turtles, hummingbirds and various crosshatch motifs, Sylvia Naha won numerous awards and honors throughout her lifetime. She signed her pieces with a painted feather insignia and an “S” for Sylvia. She learned her craft from her mother, Helen Naha. She was also the granddaughter of Paqua Naha, the first Frog Woman.
Seed Pots | Dolores Curran (b.1954)
Artist: American Indian PottersDescription: L: 2”h x 1.5”d; R: .5”h x 1”d
Dolores Curran’s painted pots are typically small in size due to the intricacy of the designs and time involved in applying as many as five layers of slip to each piece. These two pots shown are small and from an early phase of her work. Her designs often include geometric shapes, feathers, birds, and water serpents. Curran’s later work is typically carved and more reflective of her late husband’s, Alvin Curran, San Juan style of pottery. This change came about largely due to the diminishing supply of the white or cream colored clay slip Curran used for painting.
Curran, along with her sister and brother, learned to make Santa Clara style pottery from their mother who, in turn, learned at the hand of her mother.
Miniature Seed Pots | Art Cody Haungooah (1943-1985)
Artist: American Indian PottersDescription: Pottery
The small seed pots shown here offer a varied look at the artistry of Art Cody Haungooah. They are well-appointed examples of his sgraffito style and include a number of symbols and elements representative of pueblo traditions and culture such as the avanyu (a horned or plumed serpent), spotted frog, bison and a kokopelli.
On occasion when we’re on an information quest about artworks contained in the collection to share with you, we utilize the resources of experts and friends within the greater art community. While researching the pueblo pottery of Art Cody Haungooah, the EBC happened upon this amazing blog and fascinating biography: https://kinggalleries.com/art-cody-haungooh-reflected-light-pueblo-pottery/. We highly recommend utilizing the King Galleries website which has vast amounts of biographical potter information. And, they can also help if you’re in the market for a pot or two or have an educational interest in the genre.
Artist: American Indian Potters