Pottery by Nancy and Chris Youngblood will be at Lyn A. Fox Fine Pueblo Pottery.
SANTA FE, NM
Family traditions thrive at Santa Clara Pueblo especially among the descendants of Serafina Tafoya (1863-1949) and her daughter Margaret (1904-2001).
The new work of Nancy Youngblood and her son Chris will be shown at Lyn A. Fox Fine Pueblo Pottery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on August 16. Nancy uses a black stone for polishing her pots. Called Apache Tears, it belonged to her great-grandmother Serafina. Chris, as his mother, uses the traditional coil method but is working in more contemporary themes. He says, “It’s hard when you come from the heritage I come from to raise it to another level.”
Fox notes that Margaret Tafoya made pots thick enough to carve quarter-inch patterns into. “Nancy has taken the carving to a new level of unbelievable fine art” within the traditions of Santa Clara pottery.
Fox points out a 10-inch plate by Chris “that shows
he has a foot in two worlds. It carries on the Tafoya tradition, but it is developmental. Chris remembers the koi from a pond Nancy had when he was young, and he acknowledges the influence of Asian pottery. The three koi on this plate look as though they are in motion, not static, and the spiral in the center emphasizes the motion. That’s enhanced by the spiral in the center resembling swirling water. Margaret made plates with an inner and an outer circle,” he continues, “but confined the design to the inner circle. Chris ignores the border between the two and the koi swim between them. He has introduced a micaceous slip to the unpolished outer circle to give it a sparkle and has left the unpolished inner circle matte.
Chris constructs his plates with large coils, giving himself a bigger canvas to work his often deeply cut designs. If he misses an air bubble in the preparation of the clay, however, it can cause the piece to break in the firing.
Fox points out a similar problem in the extraordinary jar with 64 ribs and a raindrop lid that he commissioned from Nancy for the show. The potential for chipping one of the ribs during polishing, especially where they become finer and closer together at the bottom, is very high.
In can take Nancy five or six 12-hour days to produce the even polish she achieves on her 64-rib pots. She, too, is cautious preparing the clay and forming the pot to avoid disaster in the open pit fires she uses. “You have to leave as little to luck and chance as is humanly possible,” she says. “At some point the spirit of the Clay Mother takes over, and you know when to leave well enough alone. Something larger takes command and then you have to let go and trust the process.”
1. Chris Youngblood (Santa Clara), oval slant swirl, 4½ x 6¾"
2. Chris Youngblood (Santa Clara), 32-rib jar, 5½ x 5"3. Chris Youngblood(Santa Clara), koi plate, 10"4. Nancy Youngblood (Santa Clara), lidded jar with 34 shells, 5 x 4½" 5. Nancy Youngblood (Santa Clara), 64-straightrib lidded jar, 6¾ x 5½" Photos by Addison Doty.