Marilyn Ray is a favorite of collectors and judges, alike, for her beautifully made pieces that feature winsome animal and children. This seed pot has no children, but with three gorgeous, realistically painted, applied Monarch butterflies, the pot needs nothing else.
Seed pots were meant to harbor seeds over the winter, saving them for the next planting season. The very small hole that was a feature, was meant to keep out vermin and other seed-eaters. This beautiful seed pot is a modern version, that pays tribute to tradition in the decoration and the very, very small opening. Starting with the flattened round form, everything about this pot is carefully composed so that each part is perfectly wonderful, while contributing to the splendid whole.
The pristine white clay, characteristic of Acoma Pueblo, is lightly burnished, and becomes a serene foil for the dramatic, geometric border. The brick red is a natural clay slip; the black is a paint derived from wild spinach plants. The designs refer to rain, in the black striped, fine-line areas, and plants, in the oval leaf-like forms. The beautifully shaped and painted butterflies are also symbols of good luck in planting, since they help to propagate crops and other plants.
They look as if they have just flitted down on the pot, wings still extended. Their naturalistic orange color is also a clay slip; powdered red clay and powdered white clay mixed with water, to make a paint.notice the graceful antennae? They are painted on the surface of the pot, whereas the butterflies themselves are formed and applied separately.
Warmly colorful and a wonderful combination of two- and three-dimensional forms, this is one of the artist’s most elegant works.