Originally a Suazo, from Taos Pueblo, she married into Santa Clara Pueblo. The rest is pottery history.
Known for her elegant and finely detailed sgraffito carving, Bernice has passed her gift on to her children, Carolyn Elliott and Dusty Naranjo, and grandson Jonathan Naranjo, all multiple award-winners, as is Bernice, and her extended family.
As seen in this beautiful and complex seed pot, her work is not only handsome, but requires as much skill as artistry.
It represents many hours of work, from gathering the clay, to mixing, coiling, smoothing, firing, stone-polishing, and etching the design – all by hand.
The variations in brown hues require multiple firings in an outdoor pit, just as in ages past; tricky, and time-consuming.
Two sinuous bands, with incised dragonflies, wind around the beautifully proportioned oval of the pot.
Dragonflies represent the good fortune of water, since they live above and near waterways.
The bottom band is stone polished in a deep siena hue, with the dragonflies in strong contrast.
The other, longer band coils gracefully from the bottom to the very top of the seed pot.
Here, the background of the band is left matte, with etched lines as delicate as filaments, and larger, deeply incised dragonflies.
Take a close look, and notice that every dragonfly has a different design on its body.
All over the rest of the pot, stone-polished, deep brown leaf forms are more deeply, and precisely, etched into the beige base clay.
Water promotes healthy plants, crops and harvests, and healthy, happy people by extension.
Although the design is her own creation, and therefore, modern, the inspiration, material and techniques are traditional.
A splendid example of the famous Naranjo expertise, and intricate design, this is a brilliant pot, in every way.