Aunt and mentor to Marcella and Emma Yepa, this accomplished potter has a slew of ribbons from Santa Fe Indian Market under her own belt, as well.
This impressive olla is typical of her prize-winning work: shapely and large, incised, painted and stone polished with wonderful precision and artistry.
Carved into steps at the rim, the neck and shoulder are crisply etched with stepped rain signs, stylized feathers, and graceful cornstalks. Stone-polished, red clay slip reveals the creamy base clay.
Some elements, like the cornstalks, are scratched into the red surface; others, like the feathers, stand out from the light background, which was etched out to form them. Feathers symbolize prayers and hopes, sent up to the heavens. Stepped rain symbols are the source of the prayers, and the cornstalks are the intended result. Happiness, good health, and prosperity follow a robust harvest.
The stepped rim also refers to the steps that lead into and from the underground kiva, where all sacred, and secret, events take place. The hand-made ladder indicates the entrance and exit of the kiva.
Painted with the same exactitude as the etched elements, the body of the olla has a balanced, symmetrical design. Stylized symbols of rain and feathers or plants form the pattern. Parallel lines mean rainfall, and the rounded triangular forms may symbolize leaves of plants, or feathers, again. The little crosses seen at intervals say that the blessings of rain and abundance should extend to all four corners of the earth. Polished red clay slip covers the bottom of the pot, balancing the red top.
The clays were gathered, mixed, coiled, smoothed, painted and etched by the artist’s hands, and the olla was fired in the ground. The grey-ish brown paint is derived from plants, mixed with a bit of the creamy clay.
With or without the kiva ladder, this is an imposing and handsome pot, with outstanding designs that are beautifully achieved.