There are artistic dynasties, just as there are royal ones, and Darlene belongs to Hopi’s pre-eminent pottery family, the Nampeyo descendants.
The original Nampeyo, like Maria Martinez at San Ildefonso Pueblo, was a key figure in reviving and expanding the luster of her tribe’s pottery.
Darlene is her great-great-granddaughter, and her mother is sister to some of the legendary names in Hopi – and contemporary – pottery: Dextra Quotskuyva, Eleanor Lucas and Priscilla Namingha, all major award-winners.
Darlene Nampeyo’s pottery follows the high standards exemplified by this illustrious extended family’s work, and you can see it in this handsome plate.
The warm peachy-tan hue of Hopi clay glows behind a graphic, meticulously painted version of a bird.
Of course, the clay is locally gathered, mixed, coiled, smoothed, and stone-burnished, by hand,
It was pit fired, and the wonderfully symmetrical design was painted by hand, using red clay slips and vegetal paint, derived from steeping plants like bee-weed, or wild spinach.
The plate depicts an eagle, with outspread wings. The cruciform design in the center refers to the four corners of the world.
This indicates that the protection and blessings of the eagle should extend to everyone, all over the earth.
Striking clarity and a beautifully balanced composition characterize the painting.
The gentle shading of the background clay color adds to the depth and interest of the design.
This is a bargain, for the quality of the piece, and the artist’s celebrated name.