Artists and craftspeople from cultures around the world make ceramic pots and vessels using methods and techniques passed down from one generation to the next. The Haudenosaunee, an alliance of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora Nations, follow their own ceramic traditions, which date back for centuries. Prior to European contact, Haudenosaunee pots and containers were made from raw clay dug out of the ground, which was then rolled into snake-like coils, shaped into forms, and smoothed by hand. These vessels were often decorated with incised designs or patterns and always served a functional purpose, whether for cooking or storage. In the 17th century, European contact eradicated these long-held traditions. The introduction of metal pots quickly replaced old-style clay cooking pots and vessels, due in part to their durability and the ease of acquiring the pots through trade. It was not until the latter half of the 20th century that Haudenosaunee artists began to recover their traditional ceramic methods, which they are now teaching to a younger generation. Carving in stone also became popular in the late 20th century as an additional form of artistic expression.
This exhibition features the work of five contemporary Haudenosaunee artists represented in the Everson’s collection—Tom Huff, Ada Jacques, Peter B. Jones, Tammy Tarbell-Boehning, and Steve Smith—whose work signifies a revival of earlier Haudenosaunee traditions. These five artists draw upon their cultural heritage and blend traditional artistic methods with modern techniques to make pots, jars, vases, and figurative sculpture that speak to the past and resonate with the present.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.