In Mo­tion

Pot­tery by Nancy and Chris Young­blood will be at Lyn A. Fox Fine Pue­blo Pot­tery.

Native American Art - - IN THIS ISSUE -

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.

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