He is a living legend for his unbelievably intricate seed pots, featured in museum and private collections.
Wallace Nez is one of the very, very few Navajo potters whose incised pieces are made of hand-gathered, natural clay, coiled and formed by hand.
(Much of the Navajo pottery featuring complex, carved and painted designs are created on greenware: commercially molded clay blanks.)
This superb seed pot exhibits all the complexity, accuracy, and incredible artistry that he is known for.
As in every piece of his, the execution and design are simply breathtaking; the message incorporated in the design is meaningful.
Eagles are Guardians of the Sky, soaring so high that they are thought to carry prayers up to the heavens. Thus, eagles and eagle feathers are sacred.
Painted with exquisite realism and precision, a pair of eagles – male and female – decorate one side of the piece.
Notice how the female’s head overlaps the rosette-like motif at the top, and the spiky element just above her beak, to the right. This gives the illusion of three-dimensions.
The pair of eagles are painted as if on canvas, with realistic, subtle shading.
The artist says he often uses one hair of his little daughter’s, to achieve the detail he wants.
There is a vertical row of eagle feathers to the left of them, ready to waft up to the sky with prayers.
On the opposite side of the seed pot, a stylized, smaller eagle has a stepped rain design as his wings, and is surrounded by more eagle feathers.
The prayers are probably meant to be for rain, so scarce in the high desert.
A frieze of smaller eagles, wings outspread, encircles the hip of the seed pot. they are flying over a band of vertical lines with also refer to rain.
Below them, the base of the pot has been carved and painted to replicate a Navajo ceremonial basket that extends down to the bottom of the piece.
In execution and coloration it is incredibly realistic, like the painted eagles, but actually carved.
The design of pattern against pattern against pattern is handled with superb artistry.
Every element of every design on this plate is delineated and painted with astounding precision and delicacy.
A museum piece tomorrow, today it can be yours to enjoy and marvel at.