Mother and aunt of some of the best-known and most-awarded potters of our time, Bernice Naranjo is an award-winning artist in her own right.
Her work is noted for her elegant forms, fine sgrafitto (etched) designs, and lovingly rendered nature motifs. This jar is a stunning example.
With a gorgeously flowing, lyrical line, she has scratched out an amazingly realistic and detailed picture.
Hummingbirds and wild roses is a traditional Pueblo motif, symbolizing pollination of crops, as well as delight in the new Spring, and just plain beauty.
Birds and flowers are depicted in recognizable, but artistic detail.
The graceful branches and leaves curl up and around the whole piece, in an asymmetrical arrangement that accentuates the form of the jar.
Voluptuous curves within the winding vine of flowers and birds add up to a total, luscious curvaceousness.
The potter’s ability to “draw” on the clay is prodigious – look at the various angles and foreshortening of the elements.
She has etched a complex, meticulously detailed, naturalistic picture on three-dimensional clay, with a push-pin, or other low-tech tool.
The decoration is as beautiful as the form of the pottery piece.
The pot itself is hand coiled of hand-dug and-mixed clay, polished with a hand held stone, and pit-fired.
Bernice seems to be able to draw on a curved form as if it were a flat sheet of paper.
The remarkable sense of three-dimensionality – the hummingbird is clearly in front of the vine – is a hallmark of her work.
The sure skill demonstrated by the various levels of etching is amazing: the base clay is beige, and there are varying layers of black/brown, brown, etc.
With a profusion of detail, this beautifully composed “drawing” is endlessly engrossing.
Each time you look at it, different details become apparent. And it is seamlessly attuned to the elegant form of the jar.
Bring endless beauty into your home with this exceptional piece of pottery.
(N.B. NEVER, ever, put water in this piece! It is called a jar or vase, but is meant ONLY for display.)