The Ortiz family of Cochiti Pueblo is internationally renowned for their prize-winning clay figures – a centuries-old tradition in their Pueblo. Mary Janice sometimes strays from the traditional subjects like turtles, and Guardian figures, to create equally wonderful pottery pieces like this imposing large plate. Plates are notoriously difficult to achieve by the coil-and-smooth method of Native pottery, and large plates, like this one, are even more problematic, since the weight of the clay tends to fold onto itself. So, forsaking the turtles, frogs and other figural pieces for which she is so famous, she challenged herself, and produced this magnificent charger-sized plate, decorated with a dramatic portrait of a deer. Surrounded with deer tracks, the portrait conveys both the grace and the power of its subject. Deer are prey animals, and this plate is an homage to their sacrifice in providing life-sustaining meat for humans.
Brewed wild spinach leaves are used for the black paint, which is beautifully graphic against the off-white clay slip. A thin line, and then scallops form the borders. The back of the piece has been left to show the local red clay which is the base. Notice the little gap in the edge, toward the bottom? That is the traditional “spirit line”, thought to provide an escape route for the creativity that went into a particular piece, freeing the creative spirit to be an inspiration for future work.
Large, dramatic, and impeccably made in the traditional way, this handsome plate is a major work by this major artist. You will be proud to display it.
Natural Clay, Natural Clay Slips and Pigment
Height: 1″ Diameter: 11″