American Indian pottery in Rand Gallery highlights the work of Pueblo potters from the Southwest. Focusing both on traditional patterns and centuries-old techniques and innovative approaches by the current generation of established pottery families, the installation offers an overview of historic and contemporary practices in this important Native American medium.
More than 40 pieces of Pueblo Indian pottery are now on view dating from the late 19th century to the present time. The pottery is placed within historical context to demonstrate how certain factors brought about stylistic change and innovation. The installation highlights how the majority of distinctive Pueblo ceramic traditions have evolved gradually over time although change can occur abruptly even within this most conservative of art forms. The slow but steady experimentation with form and designs at Santa Clara Pueblo is contrasted with the dramatic changes made at Tewa Village and San Ildefonso Pueblo where innovative artists such as Nampeyo, Maria Martinez, and Jody Folwell, sparked sudden changes.
Even these innovators share a strong sense of continuity with their ceramic heritage and strive to preserve traditional methods involving ancient techniques using clay, pigments, and firing methods learned from their ancestors. Experimentation with designs and shapes is encouraged, but not change in methods used to create the pieces.
The importance of ceramic traditions passed on through generations of pottery families is also illustrated. Children are taught ancient pottery techniques by their grandmothers, mothers, and aunts. Pottery made by four generations from the pottery families of famed matriarchs Nampeyo and Margaret Tafoya are represented in the new exhibition. An informative reader rail includes an opportunity for children to feel the textures of hand-coiled Pueblo pots and to learn how they are made.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website