The third generation of her family to be noted for their work, Val creates totally traditional pottery.
Her mother, Gloria Kahe, is Navajo, married into Hopi, but is a considered a notable Hopi potter.
Valerie’s work is made entirely by hand, from clay-gathering, to pit-firing and painting with plant pigments.
Her designs vary from serene to amazingly complex all-over patterns that are like mosaics.
Somewhere between those parameters, this piece shows off a shapely form that is emphasized by the adroitly placed decoration.
Nicely burnished, the bold design incorporates the Hopi bird, rain, clouds and wind, feathers, and dragonflies.
Feathers carry the prayers for rain up to the heavens. This means good luck for Hopi dry farmers (no river, no irrigation), and by extension, for you the owner.
The hands represent blessing and protection – more good luck.
More traditional in arrangement than some of her other designs, the symmetrical pattern ensures that the piece looks just as handsome from every angle.
Divided into four quarters, it also conforms to the idea that this good luck extends to all four corners of the earth.
The patterns are crisply painted in a nicely modulated palette of terra cotta clay slip, white clay slip, and dramatic black – from steeping wild spinach leaves in hot water.
This is a fine example of this talented potter’s exciting work.