Native American Ceramics

American Indians of the Southwest began making functional pottery at least 2,000 years ago. The skills needed to make these vessels passed from generation to generation, a tradition that continues to this day. Geographic variations in clay, along with regional preferences for certain designs and shapes, meant that distinct styles became associated with permanent villages, which the Spanish called pueblos. When the railroad brought visitors to the Southwest in the late 19th century, potters responded by selling their wares, and an ongoing market became established for pottery made as art. For the first time, many makers began to sign their work, and individual potters became known and their works collected. These artists drew inspiration from their ancestors and built upon their traditions. The art of their adventuresome descendants has become increasingly elaborate, detailed, personal, and political over time.

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  • Al Qöyawayma (Hopi-Tewa, born 1938)
    Vessel. 1994.
  • Alice Cling (Navajo, born 1946)
    Bottle. 2005.
  • Attributed to Maria Martinez (San Ildefonso, 1887–1980) and Julian Martinez (San Ildefonso, ca. 1885–1943)
    Jar. circa 1915–1920.
  • Attributed to Nampeyo of Hano (Hopi-Tewa, ca. 1856–1942)
    Bowl with Mission Design. circa 1905.
  • Autumn Borts-Medlock (Santa Clara, born 1967)
    Dragonfly Pot. n.d.
  • Barbara Cerno (Hopi/Acoma, born 1951)
    Pictorial Train Olla. 2011.
  • Barbara Gonzales (San Ildefonso, born 1947)
    Seed Jar. n.d.
  • Carrie Charlie Chino (Acoma, 1925–2012)
    Olla. n.d.
  • Cavan Gonzales (San Ildefonso, born 1970)
    Jar. n.d.
  • Christina Naranjo (Santa Clara, 1891–1980)
    Jar with Avanyu. before 1965.
  • Christine Nofchissey McHorse (Navajo, 1948–2021)
    Large Gourd Jar with Lightning Rim. n.d.
  • Daniel Begay (Navajo/Santa Clara, born 1987)
    Jar. 2010.
  • Dextra Quotskuyva Nampeyo (Hopi-Tewa, 1928–2019)
    Sherd Pot. n.d.
  • Diego Romero (Cochiti, born 1964)
    A True Tale. 2005.
  • Dora Tse-Pe (San Ildefonso/Zia, born 1939)
    Jar with Avanyu. 1992.
  • Dorothy Torivio (Acoma, 1946–2011)
    Seed Jar with Geometric Design. 1986.
  • Erik Fender (San Ildefonso, born 1970)
    Water Jar with Eagle Feather Design. circa 2014.
  • Esthela Dagua (Puyo, Ecuador, 1951–2015)
    Small storage jar (ichilla tinaja) with turtle and anaconda motif. 1996.
  • Grace Medicine Flower (Santa Clara, born 1938)
    Sgraffito Carved Jar with Hummingbirds. 1980s.
  • Harrison Begay, Jr. (Navajo/Santa Clara, born 1961)
    Jar. 2000.

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