Not a household name, perhaps, but this pottery artist has an illustrious family background.
Her grandmother was Seferina Bell, of Zia Pueblo, and her mother is Ruby Panana, who married into Jemez Pueblo. Both were/are highly respected and award-winning pottery artists.
Brenda learned well, as this shapely, and very handsome, olla demonstrates.
Beautifully formed, and carved, this piece was made traditionally, from clays that were hand-gathered, -mixed, -coiled, -smoothed, -carved, -textured, stone-polished, and fired in the ground.
On the base clay of pinky-beige, she has applied red and cream clay slips, with an accent of wild spinach-infused black.
The design is original, but comprises the major symbolism of sun, rain, and corn, bringing health and happiness to the whole world.
Stepped designs on the shoulder depict rain; the arrowheads point down, to the carved Sunface and the starburst Sunface, flanked by incised cornstalks.
Rain and sun, together, promote abundant crops, and corn is the symbol for all crops.
The slender rays of the Sunface decorated with more stepped rain motifs, indicates that the blessing of good health, abundance, and happiness should extend to all corners of the world.
Deeply and crisply carved, the beautiful form of the olla tapers up to a sharply defined, handsome rim.
The combination of natural clay colors is pleasingly distributed around the piece, and the glossy polished areas contrast well with the hand-stippled background.
Black lines accent the larger Sunface, which is surrounded by stepped rain motifs, and two tapered forms, each with a narrow black line.
These, and the rounded rectangles around the features, are stylized eagle feathers, meant to convey the hopes and prayers for rain and a bountiful harvest, up to the heavens.
Notice how the two carved areas form a polished, red vee-shape, on the plain body of the olla.
This emphasizes the sharply tapered form of the entire olla – an artful and handsome touch.
Altogether, this olla is shaped with skill and refinement, decorated cleverly, to integrate with the form, and carries a heartfelt narrative, in addition to being esthetically remarkable.