There are comparatively few Navajo potters, mainly due to geography (clay needs water, which is scarce on the rez). Of those few, those who decorate their pots with intricate carved, incised and painted designs are even fewer.
Wallace Nez, Jr is almost alone among those, in creating his pottery entirely by hand, the traditional way.
His exquisite pieces have brought him many awards and much deserved recognition.
This incredibly intricate seed pot features two depictions of the buffalo, amid many different decorative patterns.
Each border has a different design, each one delineated and painted with breathtaking precision and delicacy.
Three of the borders, graduated in width, represent eagle feathers – symbol of prayer.
The carved and painted base looks just like a Navajo ceremonial basket in every detail: color, symmetry, design.
The design of pattern against pattern against pattern is handled with superb artistry. The palette of natural clay slips and plant color adds to the overall balance.
Repeated horizontals and related motifs create richness; instead of chaos there is harmony.
The buffalo seen in the first large photo is painted as if on canvas; fully dimensional, with subtle shading.
The artist says that he often uses his little daughter’s hair for a brush fine enough to capture all that detail!
We could go on and on, marveling at the skill, finesse and astounding quality of this young artist’s achievement, but eyes can comprehend all this better than words.
This is a magnificent work of art that will be treasured for generations.