Pottery & Clay Sculpture

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Mata Ortiz--A Mexican Village of Potters--A small (2,000 pop.) village in northern Chihuahua 100 miles south of New Mexico has almost everyone making pots for the souvenir trade. In the 1930's, as a boy, elder Juan Quezada rediscovered methods used by the villagers' ancestors, the Paquimè Indians (who lived there 900 years ago). As his pots began to sell, he taught others -- traditionalists, innovators. Interviews and photos with villagers form a fascinating story of life in this little town, which had no pottery tradition whatever -- it was created from potsherds. Webmaster Mike Williams has been a friend for a long time obviously, publishes a newsletter for Friends of Maya Ortiz.

  • Table of Contents (Part 1) to bio notes about many of the village's potters -- a continuation to more lifestories is at the bottom here. Missing

  • Making a Mata Ortiz Pot -- a step by step description, from gathering clay to sitting in the kitchen, to firing it outside. Missing

  • A story page carries a new story about village life several times a year (sometimes centering on one of the villagers), such as the cowboy who's a reluctant potter (because he can make more money that way), or the fireworks show. There's a tour guide for visiting (staying at the one Posada or Inn) and a book-based tour. I'm very glad Mike found a new home for his interesting story of life in a village where there was no tradition of pottery (or rather it had been entirely destroyed), but it was rediscovered from potsherds and experimenting -- and now supports everyone. Missing

  • One World Magazine makes a slick presentation about Mata Ortiz from a videotape by potter/curator Barbara Goffin.

  • Mata Ortiz -- the Discovery -- A Texas gallery dealer tells how an archaeologist discovered the pots of Juan Quesada in a New Mexico junk shop, and thus began the "miracle of Maya Ortiz."

  • Buy directly from the artists at the Trevízo Gallery

  • Or buy directly from the artists at Hot Out of the Fire

  • Gallery of Mata Ortiz pots -- and several books about the village -- for sale.

Books about Mata Ortiz pottery available from Amazon.com.

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  • Hollister Collection of Southwestern Native American Pottery--This is what every museum should be doing: a scholarly presentation of collections for on-line study. Most are just running heavily-textual PR for themselves, with occasional photos and a few nice on-line virtual galleries. The 94 pots are accessed through several criteria link-lists, all leading to a page that has a pic of the pot, attribution, date, and potter (if known). Most of these pots (which include a lot of blackware, and 3 examples -- like the one shown at the right -- by Maria, who re-discovered the technique) are traditional useful objects, from bean pots to water ollas to wedding vases -- with the occasional sleek ashtray. If the pages provided more info about who's who and where the collection is, it's possible southwestern Pueblo families might be able to help ID pots with marks or first-names. These pots appear to have been collected in the 1920's - '40's, Collection on University of Massachusetts campus somewhere; study catalog here is still under construction with much yet to be done. Exemplary beginning.

  • Pueblo Pottery Exhibit This isn't a study collection like the above, but focus on a museum-orientation collection of pots-as-objects. Mopt much about the people here, and a Classroom and History section are both disappointing in cold presentations that seem more oriented to professionals than to young people.

  • Books about Pueblo pottery available from Amazon.com.

  • Books about Hopi pottery available from Amazon.com.

  • WINGSPREAD: Pueblo Pottery Terms--Definitions of words used to describe the methods of making pots, different types of glazes and finish, and patterns. All text. WebCouple produces a hardcopy magazine for collectors of native arts and crafts, and an extensive website based on this. Only the southwest is covered unfortunately.

  • Al Quoyawayma's Fine Art--Ceramics, Sculpture and Pottery--Al Qüoyäma is a Hopi engineer, who (in 1977) was one of the founders of American Indian Science and Engineering Society. He is also a fine artist. His son, John Quoyawayama --- a graphic artist specializing in computer graphics, animations and web page design, prepared this on-line gallery of his father's pottery. We will link more of John's interesting computer graphics under his Studio Q logo.

    Nora Naranjo-Morse, Santa Clara Pueblo--This links to excerpts from this clay sculptor's book of poetry, Mud Woman: Poems from the Clay, 1991, University of Arizona Press, $15.95 paperback, 800/426-3797. Her book is illustrated with photos of her clay sculpture. In the long intro essay, she describes her life and art, as an Indian woman artist who faced difficulties with non-traditional work such as caricatures of grotesque white tourists . She also tells how she derived strength and inspiration from her mother and the tradition of Santa Clara Pueblo pottery. The essay links to some of Nora's poems, which are illustrated with small clickbuttons that link to extra-large high-quality photos of all too few of her amazing, sometimes funny, clay sculptures. The 127-page book itself has 30 color plates, some humorous, some more traditional. Some of the funny ones are caricatures of tourists and other obnoxious white people, that are sort of like Koshare clowns in a way, if clowns wore gold spandex tights and floppy lady hats and sequin sunglasses.. Nora's poems are very fine. They speak strongly to all women everywhere, but especially to those of us who are walking various knife-edges between modern life and traditional values.

    Nora's book is very highly recommended for classroom reading (7+ grades) and for gifts, especially for women and girls. Possibly certain really sensitive (as they describe themselves) Significant Other male types if you think they could handle it. Personally I think it would be wasted on most men, so give it to them, then steal it back when they leave it lying around untouched. There is a hardcover version also, $35. They take telephone credit card orders, and school purchase orders. The book excerpts are prepred by Karen Strom, part of her experimental on-line multimedia book project.

    • Mud Woman's First Encounter with the World of Money and Business--Link-to an autobiographical poem. Then link-to a big pic of Mudwoman herself here, sculpted by Nora . She's a self-image, a creation, a spirit of inspiration, Nora's very self. She looks somewhat like the misbegotten Mudhead clowns, but mainly she looks like a sloppy primitive woman that men leave home while they go off chasing svelte young ones. She holds two little koshare clowns. Are these her children? The children of wit, irony, humor expressing a tradition which inspires her art and life? This woman's tradition is large, it is the mother of the smaller, later, little ones she holds. This woman, bewildered, funny, sloppy, primitive, savage will have a hard time with Art Dealers and male pious frauds of all cultures. Hey you, YOU! Buy that book! Say you're a guy, you don't like this? Maybe it can help straighten you out. Hechetu welo, I have spoken (in Lakota, there).

    Books by Nora Naranjo-Morse available from Amazon.com.

  • Roxanne Swentzell--Santa Clara Pueblo Tewa. Her ceramic sculptures often follow the theme of koshares (clowns) that show many human and comical or ironic characteristics. The linked essay discusses (and displays) some of her works from the Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ, including the famous 1988 famous koshare-clowns emerging from underground. This photo is from the

    • "Why?" Lifesize ceramic sculpture by Roxanne Swenzell.--This depicts an old woman -- sagging breasts, puffy thighs, pendulous belly -- as a koshare clown (stripes very faint; everything else is a realistic nude). Not a happy one. The title suggests that near the end, she wonders why her life has been spent making things easy for others, perhaps looking ridiculous, when what's really happening is tragic. The large photo held my attention with a riot of mixed feelings for a long time. I downloaded it before ever thinking of doing these pages, in order to look at the photo without having to scroll around. This sculpture -- which was in the Alan Houser Memorial Sculpture garden in Phoenix -- is certain to hold every woman's attention, meaning something different to each of us, probably (what to young girls???). To men, I think it will just seem ugly. Like other photos of Karen Strom's hanksville-server art pages, this is large, high-quality, takes a long time to load and cannot be seen whole in the average monitor. I would like to receive email opinions or descriptions of the feelings of those who have seen it physically. Please also tell your age....The sculpture was damaged when blown over in a high wind, and was removed from the sculpture garden by Roxanne to protect it from further damage. It was sold in 1994, apparently to a private collector.

    • Swentzell: Painted Lady, large ceramic--not clear where this sculpture is located. The theme is similar to the previous "Why?" an old lady -- but this one seems rather happier about it, her body and face painting suggests a fruitful, fulfilled life. I definitely got the feeling this is the old lady's spirit -- she is dead, but it wasn't a tragic death.

    • Roxanne's most famous sculpture is Emergence of the Koshares, 1988, owned and featured by the Heard Museum in travelling and Washington and New York exhibitions, ads and posters.

    Book review-essay, Children of the Clay, a social studies book for Middle Schoolers, by Rina Swentzell. This featurs also a book for younger (5-8 years) children by Nora Naranjo-Morse, and hyperlink trips all over. It's self-guided web research for students and a teaching resource in itself for teachers.

  • Marsha Gomez--A different tradition, both of sculpture and of purpose, is represented by Madre del Mundo (Mother of the World), an outdoor sculpture. Marsha is of Indian and Hispanic descent, and has long been involved in the causes of Indian women's rights and world peace. She is a Board member of the Indigenous Women's Network, which is headquartered in the Twin Cities, and publishes a quarterly magazine of indigenous women's writings, art and conferences. This link is to a PeaceNet article about "Madre" which was placed several years ago on Western Shoshone land, across from the nuclear missle test site, near Las Vegas, Nevada. The site is on stolen Shoshone land (It was taken from the Dann family after World War II for nuclear bomb and missile test site), and has been the locale of protests and resistance, spearheaded by the Shoshone Dann sisters, Carrie and Mary Dann. Their first federal arrests (accused of trespassing on their own land that the government took for the test site) occurred in 1973. In the article linked here is a poor black and white photo of the large colored Madre; Marsha sells small stonecast versions and donates 40% of it to IWN. I would like to get a color photo of Madre near the missile site, if she is still there. If anybody has one, I'd really appreciate it if they would send me a print to scan and post here. I can't use slides.

  • Elizabeth Abeyta - Navajo Sculptor--Abeita's clay sculptures are (here anyway) mostly mudhead clowns, done fairly traditionally, but with a subtle humor. A good essay on her work, and many fine photos of the mudheads. Short bibliogarphy of other readings on her work.

    Mike and Jackie Torivio-- Acoma husband and wife pottery team. He forms the clay, she paints. Essay by Richard Pearce-Moses, Owl is probably in Heard Museum. The big pic resides on Karen Strom's Native Artists section. That owl is so lovable! I just wanted to hold it, but it's only a picture! (I have an owl-name from Nellie Red Owl; I've always liked owls.) I wish there were more shots of this owl from different angles, in clearer light too. How big do you think it is?

  • Barbara Gonzales:Tahn Moo Whe' Pottery--San Ildefonso Pueblo. Need more info about her, apparently she operates her own gallery?

  • Glendora Daubs--The Penfield Gallery of Indian Art: Pueblo Pottery, Jemez pueblo

  • D. Andrew Rodriguez, Laguna Pueblo--Ceramic bas relief wall sculpture.

  • Thomas and Charmae Shields Nasteway, Laguna-Acoma Pueblo potters--Andrews Pueblo Pottery and Art Gallery. Charmae is the daughter of Ethel Shields, well-known Acoma potter. There is a strong Mimbres influence on the way their work is painted. Thomas Nasteway has specifically studied Zuni art and symbolism, and incorporates some of this also. A piece by Thomas Naranjo (Tewa, Santa Clara) is also shown here.

  • Lewis Family, Acoma Pueblo potters-- Sisters Diane and Sharon Lewis, Carolyn Condio, and Rebecca Lucario make small, round items -- paperweights, put-by-your-bedside objects -- intricately painted, whimsical, with a strong Mimbres influence on their designs.

  • Pueblo Cultural Center--The art pottery center of the western hemisphere is currently southwestern desert-Pueblo tribal potters, mostly women. This link tells of the cultural center and has a page of info on most Rio Grande pueblos.

    CREDITS: : The logo of these art pages is "Two Fish" by Manitoulin Island Ojibwe-Odawa Martin Panamick, as explained in the Art Contents Menu page credits.

    PAGE LOGO BOWL is Mimbres, around 1300-1450. Mimbres pottery, named after the Mimbres Valley of Mexico, was a product of the Mogollon culture, which began to cultuvate corn in the dry highlands of Mexico-New Mexico-Arizona around 2,000 BC. Mimbres pottery was made by the coil technique. The earliest examples -- from about 200 - 700 AD -- are delicate designs of black on white, some geometric abstracts, but many geometrized animal or spirit-figures. Later, polychrome pottery (like this) using red and black glazes was made. The amazing geometric designs have had much influence on Indian art of the southwest, as can be seen from many items in the pottery galleries here. This bowl is from the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art.

    Juan Quesada photo by Mike Williams, Webmaster of the Mata Ortiz village site.

    Maria Martinez (Poveka) (San Ildefonso Pueblo, 1881-1980) blackware pot, 1923. Maria rediscovered the ancient technique of airless firing to make blackware. Her husband Julian invented a method of decorating pots with matte black designs on shiny black. Her entrepreneur son Popovi Da also began self-marketing, partly cutting out the traditional southwest system of non-Indian "trading post" middlemen who took most of the profits from sales, though this still survives in a host of classy, profitable (to the owners) fine arts galleries in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Grandson Tony Da, an artist and potter, operates a pottery production facility and the family gallery today. That's a bear fetish by Tony; I found it in unfinished art appreciation lessons prepared for IAIA. Here's a brief bio about Maria Martinez by a gallery that says it replaces these stories every month. So let me know if it disappears. Back to pot collection if you jumped here from there.<

    Towa (the People) clay sculpture by Nora Naranjo-Morse, photo from her Mud Woman book.

    Why?, Roxanne Swentzell, Santa Clara Pueblo, life-size ceramic sculpture from Alan Houser Memorial Sculpture Graden, Phoenix, AZ. One of the most powerful pieces of art done by anyone, anywhere, anytime, anyculture.

    Fantastic Owl, by Mike & Jackie Torivio, Acoma Pueblo husband-wife potter team. Is this one in the Heard Museum or in Karen Strom's personal collection? Very loveable to someone like me who loves owls.

    --Karen Strom--Physics and Astronomy graphics professor, University of Massachusetts. Last is the place of honor in most every Indian tradition. Karen's big Index, of all Native resources she finds (or are reported to her) on the InterNet is of great value. Many photos and essays are incorporated as parts of an interesting on-line multimedia book, Voyage to Another Universe, structured as several journeys around the southwest. Maps, random-selections of multiple images, multiple cross-referenced linkages, art, personal encounters with people and places, phrases in spoken Navajo, make this project one of both aesthetic and technical interest. It is a fine learning resource for those who know little of the art and places of this big territory of Indian Country, which has such a powerful influence on the world of native art.

    Books about Pueblo pottery available from Amazon.com.

    Books about Mata Ortiz pottery available from Amazon.com.

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    Webmistress Paula Giese -- Explanatory text and graphics copyright 1995.

    Last Updated: 5/27/97