Erik Fender, Than Tsideh “Sunbird”, was born in 1970 into the San Ildefonso Pueblo.
He was born into an illustrious potting family; his great-aunt was the matriarch of the revival in traditional San Ildefonso pottery, Maria Martinez. At 10 years of age, Eric began working with his mother Martha Appleleaf, and grandmother Carmelita Dunlap, learning how they would hand-coil and hand-paint their traditional black-on-black pottery. Before he turned 18 he was already winning awards, which led to experimenting with different clays and techniques to produce new colors on his pottery. Eventually, he became his mother’s apprentice, learning the ways of traditional San Ildefonso pottery that his family was known for producing.
Over time there has been a stylistic progression, from the traditional black-on-black pottery to an innovative style including two-tone, black-on-red, pottery with areas separated by sgraffito. He also makes beautiful polychrome pots and specializes in green-on-black pots.
This pot, however, is a very special piece…a true one of a kind. According to Eric, this is an experimental piece he did, forging his well known green-on-black designs, these signifying clouds and wind, with a style similar to a melon pot. The deep lines on the bottom of the pot have been carved out of the clay, which he harvests himself. He did a few similar pots as a collaboration with another artist, but this one is all his own.