Mother of major prize-winning potters and a sculptor (the celebrated Cliff Fragua), she is an official “Local Treasure”, noted for her importance in reviving and revitalizing traditional pottery-making at Jemez Pueblo. And, at age 80, she still produces lovely stone-polished pieces like this strikingly beautiful olla.
Gracefully formed, it has a dramatic, graphic design that incorporates red clay slip and dark brown/black wild spinach-derived paint, on the beige clay base. Divided into vertical sections, the four designs feature butterflies and plants. Two are painted on stone polished black backgrounds, and two are on beige. All have a palette of red, beige and black in varying designs and proportions.
Two panels, on black, depict a large red and beige butterfly that hovers over a cornstalk. Two smaller butterflies flank the corn plant. Corn is the Native staff of life, and butterflies help to propagate crops and plants. The other two panels, on burnished beige backgrounds, show flowering plants. A wavy line symbolizing water, is painted in black, on the inside of the rim. All these are symbols of abundance, good health and happiness.
The alternating panels of black and beige are separated by broad bands of red clay. The whole design is beautifully integrated, in theme, painted elements and color. The black, red and beige panels give the olla a vigorous energy and emphatic presence. A good size to display anywhere, this olla commands attention, beautifully.