UNITED STATES NEWS

60 curators, 1 show: Native Americans pick favorite pottery

Aug 6, 2022, 7:30 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Native American voices and artistry are at the core of a new traveling exhibition of clay pottery from the Pueblo Indian region of the American Southwest, as major art institutions increasingly defer to tribal communities for displays of ancestral art and artifacts.

In all, 60 Native American artists, museum professionals, storytellers and political leaders collaborated to curate the exhibit.

Each picked a few of their favorite pieces from institutional collections in New Mexico and New York that didn’t always defer to Indigenous perspectives. Personal statements and sometimes poetry accompany the clay ceramics.

Among the many curators, Tara Gatewood — a broadcaster and familiar voice across Indian Country from the daily talk radio show “Native American Calling” — picked out an ancestral jar decorated with curling arrows that was created roughly 1,000 years ago.

For the exhibition, Gatewood posed a few heartfelt questions to the pot’s unnamed creator.

“Is your blood mine?” she said. “Where else beyond the surface of this vessel do your fingerprints appear on the blueprint of my own life?”

The exhibition ” Grounded in Clay ” debuted July 31 at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe. It travels next year to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, before additional stops at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the Saint Louis Art Museum.

The bulk of the exhibit’s roughly 110 ceramic pieces are borrowed from the Indian Arts Research Center — once reserved for visiting scholars and archaeologists — at the campus of the century-old School of Advanced Research, set amid an affluent Santa Fe neighborhood of stuccoed homes.

Efforts have been underway at the center for more than a decade to shift how Indigenous art and artifacts are cared for, displayed and interpreted — under guidance and collaboration with Native communities.

The changes were initiated under Cynthia Chavez Lamar — recently named the director of the Washington-based National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. The effort also created a set of guidelines for collaboration that can help Native American communities everywhere communicate and build trust with museums.

Curators on “Grounded in Clay” hail from the 19 Native American communities of New Mexico, the West Texas community of Ysleta del Sur and the Hopi tribe of Arizona.

They include an array of accomplished potters, jewelers, bead makers, fashion designers and museum professionals — among them, sculptor Cliff Fragua, who created the likeness of 1680 pueblo revolt leader Po’pay that stands in National Statutory Hall in the U.S. Capitol.

Elysia Poon, who guided the curating process over the course of more than two years, paced the museum gallery during final touches prior to opening.

“We try to make sure everyone’s voice is represented in some way,” said Poon, director of the Indian Arts Research Center. “It’s either in the label, or the quote up here, or in that panel. It’s in poetry form, other ones are in prose, others are a little more abstract in how they write. Some really reflect on the pot itself … or fuzzy memories of growing up around pottery, how this pot inspires memory.”

Pueblo pottery traditions rely on coiling strands of clay into an array of shapes and sizes — without a spinning pottery wheel. Pots, plates or figurines are often fired near the ground within improvised outdoor kilns.

Brian Vallo, a consultant to metropolitan museums and governor of Acoma Pueblo from 2019-21, chose two pieces for the new traveling exhibition — both with unmistakable ties to Acoma, known for its mesa-top “sky city” and hundreds of contemporary artists and artisans.

He found them in the New York-based Vilcek Foundation, a participant in the traveling show.

He says something beautiful and refreshing awaits experienced museum-goers and curious tourists.

“It’s Native voices, and it’s even the items that are selected by Native people themselves, not the institutions,” Vallo said. “They’ll appreciate that these cultures survived and are thriving, and the creative spirit of our people is very much alive.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

United States News

Associated Press

Cleveland Fed names Goldman Sachs executive Hammack to succeed Mester as president

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Cleveland branch of the Federal Reserve said Wednesday that Beth Hammack, an executive at investment bank Goldman Sachs, would be its next president effective Aug. 21. Hammack, 52, has worked at Goldman Sachs since 1993. She was most recently the cohead of global finance, and has also served as global treasurer […]

10 minutes ago

Associated Press

New Hampshire’s limits on teaching on race and gender are unconstitutional, judge says

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A federal judge has struck down New Hampshire’s nearly 3-year-old law limiting what teachers can say about race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and other topics in public schools as unconstitutionally vague. The ruling could revive the topic as an election year campaign issue. Republicans pitched the 2021 law as an anti-discrimination […]

46 minutes ago

Associated Press

Vermont’s Republican governor allows ghost gun bill to become law without his signature

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, has allowed a bill to become law that requires serial numbers on firearms that are privately made with individual parts, kits or 3D printers. Scott allowed the bill, part of an effort to crack down on hard-to-trace ghost guns that are increasingly showing up in crimes, to become law […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

2 new giant pandas are returning to Washington’s National Zoo from China by the end of the year

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two giant pandas are coming to Washington’s National Zoo from China by the end of the year. The zoo made the announcement Wednesday, about half a year after it sent its three pandas back to China. The number of pandas in American zoos has steadily dwindled as loan agreements lapsed during U.S.-Chinese […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

ConocoPhillips buying Marathon Oil for $17.1 billion in all-stock deal, plus $5.4 billion in debt

ConocoPhillips is buying Marathon Oil in an all-stock deal valued at approximately $17.1 billion. The deal is valued at $22.5 billion when including $5.4 billion in debt. Crude prices have jumped more than 12% this year and the cost for a barrel rose above $80 this week. As part of the transaction, Marathon Oil shareholders […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: Wall Street points toward losses as markets digest earnings, dealmaking

Wall Street was poised to open with losses on Wednesday as some major dealmaking and a handful of earnings reports fill the news void until Friday’s latest inflation report. Futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average each tumbled 0.6% before the bell. ConocoPhillips said that it is buying Marathon Oil in […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

60 curators, 1 show: Native Americans pick favorite pottery