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Margaret Moore Booker

(b Cow Springs, AZ, March 21, 1946).

Native American potter. The daughter of famed Navajo potter Rose Williams, Cling broke with tradition by creating highly polished, red-hued decorative ware in a contemporary style that ushered in a new generation of Navajo art potters (including her two sisters).

After graduating from the Intermountain Indian School in Brigham City, UT, she married Jerry Cling and worked as a teacher’s aide at the Shonto Boarding School. Initially learning to pot from her mother while a young girl, she became interested in the craft in the 1970s and over time developed an innovative style that reflected her own individual vision.

Cling used the traditional method of coiling and pinching clay into the desired form, then sanded, polished and coated her pottery with piñon pitch. She worked in the small communal room of her home in the Shonto-Cow Springs region of Arizona, watched by her mother, who lived across the highway. Her pots were fired outdoors in an open pit with juniper wood (and sometimes sheep manure) for fuel....

Article

G. Lola Worthington

(b Cochiti Pueblo, NM, 1915; d Cochiti Pueblo, NM, July 24, 1994).

Native American (Cochiti) potter. Best known as inventor of the “Cochiti Pueblo Storyteller figure,” Cordero is credited with innovation and regarded as a true folk artist. Unable to master traditional pottery forms such as bowls and vases, she produced other craftworks, such as leather and beadwork for sale, later turning to pottery as an alternative income source. Dissatisfied and frustrated with her clay skills, her cousin suggested she try to create figures. She recalled it was “like a flower blooming.”

Always living and following the Cochiti way of life, she dug and prepared natural clay and pigments. Not working from a studio, she preferred to work outdoors in all weather conditions. She created tiny birds and animals and produced numerous figures for sale. Eventually she created the Cochiti Storyteller figure. Considered debased idol worship by the Spanish, the Pueblo figurative pottery tradition had been repressed. Cordero created her first small Storyteller figure in ...

Article

Frederick J. Dockstader

(b San Juan, c. 1905–10; d 1989).

Native American Pueblo potter of San Ildefonso, NM. She attended the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe. She married Robert Gonzales (1920) and moved to his home in San Ildefonso, where they had two children: Marie and Tsé-Pe, the latter also a potter. Gonzales was not a potter in her youth, but learnt the art from her mother-in-law, Ramona Sánchez Gonzales, a noted potter of the time. Rose tried many techniques; when her husband brought home a prehistoric Pueblo sherd with incised designs on the surface, she did some experimenting, and in 1929 began to carve the surface of her vessels. This was the first medium-incised pottery from San Ildefonso and the forerunner of a ware now commonplace in the Río Grande pueblos. Her vessels are relatively thick-walled and while still green are carved intaglio with a knife. The surface is burnished, leaving a matt background in a monochrome black or red, depending on oxidization when fired, which provides a pleasing contrast. Some potters who followed her style in the 1980s and 1990s also painted the incut sections. The designs are normally on a wide band around the neck and include geometric, floral and symbolic motifs. Gonzales is a prolific artisan, and her work is well known throughout the USA. She has exhibited in many shows and has travelled throughout the world demonstrating her ceramic skills....

Article

Barbara Kramer

(b Acoma Pueblo, NM, c. 1895; d March 12, 1992).

Native American potter. As a child she made and sold Acoma polychrome pottery, which by 1900 had deteriorated into tourist wares such as vases and ashtrays, but in the 1930s she began working in the Acoma pottery tradition of the 19th century, making jars with a red-slip base and white-slip body that were decorated with the bird and flower motifs that had been common from c. 1880. In the 1940s she adapted designs from prehistoric ceramics: non-figurative motifs from Hohokam and Anasazi wares (5th–13th centuries) and figurative designs from Mimbres wares (10th–13th centuries). From the former she adopted repetitive fine-line patterning that covered the entire body of the vessel (e.g. 1959, Santa Fe, NM, Sch. Amer. Res., 2780) as well as ‘negative’ patterns in white slip against a black painted background with occasional orange accents (e.g. late 1940s, Santa Fe, NM, Sch. Amer. Res., 2979). Working in the coil-and-scrape method with the dense grey clay of the Acoma area tempered with ground potsherds, Lewis produced miniature pots, seed jars, bowls, animal effigies and water jars, all rarely more than 250 mm in height. Several coats of white slip were applied, and each coat was polished with a wet stone until the slip was opaque. Paints made from ground minerals with a binder of boiled vegetal matter were applied with a chewed yucca-leaf brush. The vessels were then fired outdoors using dried cow dung. Lewis printed ‘Acoma N.M.’ on the bottom of pieces made before ...

Article

G. Lola Worthington

(b Santa Clara Pueblo, NM, Jan 26, 1932).

Native American (Santa Clara Pueblo) potter. A renowned potter and member of the Tafoya family, his father, Camilio Sunflower Tafoya, revived ancestral traditional pottery forms and techniques and his sister, Grace Medicine Flower, was also a successful potter. Camilio produced Santa Clara’s first carved black and brick red pots characteristic of Mimbres pottery. Of his Pueblo upbringing, LoneWolf recalled, “We’d sit in the evenings and do beadwork, drawing, painting, clay modeling, woodworking, costume repairing … while our grandparents told us the old legend and stories.”

LoneWolf was a precision mining equipment machinist until 1971 when a back injury forced him to retire. The job provided him with an awareness of natural Colorado clays, which when heated or fired produce different colors and various effects from the local imbedded metals and chemicals. After his accident, he turned to pottery for a new career that coincided with his family’s pottery revival....

Article

Jonathan Batkin

Native American artists. Julian Martinez (b San Ildefonso Pueblo, NM, 1885; d San Ildefonso Pueblo, 1943) and his wife, Maria Martinez [née Montoya] (b San Ildefonso Pueblo, 1887; d San Ildefonso Pueblo, 1980), made and decorated pottery in San Ildefonso Pueblo, NM; in all their work together Maria was the potter and Julian the painter. Maria first learnt pottery-making from her aunt Nicolasa Peña Montoya (1863–1904) in the early 20th century. There were few other potters at the Tewa pueblo of San Ildefonso. In 1907 the newly founded School of American Archaeology (now School of American Research, Santa Fe, NM) began excavations in nearby Rio de los Frijoles canyon, whose sites are ancestral to the people of San Ildefonso. Maria was among the people of San Ildefonso hired to assist with the examination of excavated sherds, and she was encouraged by Edgar Lee Hewett (...

Article

G. Lola Worthington

(b Santa Clara Pueblo, NM, 1938).

Native American (Santa Clara Pueblo) potter. Her father Camilio Sunflower Tafoya, mother Agapita and aunt Margaret Tafoya revived ancestral pottery techniques characteristic of Mimbres pottery. Furthermore, they fabricated superior black and brick red carved-incised pottery forms. A member of the renowned Tafoya family, she, along with her father and brother, Joseph LoneWolf, further revived and expanded pottery forms and techniques in Santa Clara.

Surrounded by celebrated and respected potters, she began making traditional pottery. In the late 1960s, along with her brother Joseph, she began etching designs directly onto the clay using a Sgraffito method. Grace’s work, elegant and aesthetically ingenious, transforms pottery into phenomenal and celebrated showpieces.

Many steps are involved in creating her wares from locally obtained clay. Innovative combined techniques of polished polychrome clay with incised sgraffito produce spectacular creative objects. Coil built, dried, hand polished to a smooth finish with stone or painted with clay slips, she will often add additional color to the body. The contrast of matte clay against polished surface juxtaposes intricately layered designs with negative spaces. After the slip completely dries, she carves fine-line storytelling illustrations into the greenware clay. Polished steel cutting tools produce the very precise and painstaking ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

American ceramics factory in Doylestown, PA, founded in 1898 by Henry Chapman Mercer (1856–1930). The factory made tiles in an Arts and Crafts style, with decorations drawn from cultural traditions ranging from medieval European to native American. The Works has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and is now a ‘working history’ museum that produces tiles using Mercer’s methods and patterns....

Article

Nampeyo  

Barbara Kramer

(b Tewa Village, First Mesa, Hopi Reservation, AZ, c. 1860; d Polacca, Hopi Reservation, July 20, 1942).

Native American Hopi–Tewa potter. In the 1890s she began to incorporate forms and motifs adapted from Sikyatki, Awatovi and other prehistoric Southwest pottery traditions (see Native North American art §V) in her work. By c. 1900 Nampeyo had elevated the new revival style to an independent art form, later designated Hano Polychrome. She worked in the traditional coil-and-scrape method with local clay. She formed vessels ranging from small seed jars and bowls to low-shouldered jars as large as 500 mm in diameter and ollas (large-mouthed water or grain jars) up to 460 mm high. On the surfaces she painted designs of stylized birds, feathers and graceful curvilinear motifs, inspired by ancient pottery, in finely ground mineral pigments and boiled vegetal matter, using a fibrous yucca-leaf, chewed at the end to form a brush (e.g. Samuel Barrett collection, Milwaukee, WI, Pub. Mus.). She fired the vessels outdoors with dried sheep dung or, less frequently, with coal; they turned a warm honey colour with red and black designs, occasionally with white accents. Nampeyo also made a smaller number of vessels with clay that fired red and during her early years sometimes laid a white slip on the surface before painting the design. She did not sign her work. In ...

Article

G. Lola Worthington

(b Santa Clara Pueblo, NM, 1902; d 1995).

Native American (Santa Clara Pueblo) potter. Son of Sara Fina and Geronimo Tafoya, and the brother of two famous Santa Clara potter sisters, Margaret Tafoya and Christina Naranjo, Camilio started making his pottery in the mid-1920s. In the 1950s, he specialized in creating large blackware vessels and figures. He began to intermittently carve traditional Pueblo designs and images into his blackware surfaces. However, by the 1970s, he revised and completely modified his individual style and techniques. He began his beautiful miniature bas-relief carved pottery with initially incised designs from his personal observations of nature. Increasingly his illustrations became more complex in composition. Some pieces depict a series of Mimbres-style dancers or flowers in various slip colors. The innovation of etching intricate designs into the clay, using the Sgraffito process, is attributed to Camilio who passed it down to his daughter Grace Medicine Flower and his son Joseph LoneWolf. Both expanded on his original concept, which he passed down, creating additional layers of intricacy....