There are artistic dynasties, just as there are royal ones, and Darlene belongs to Hopi’s preeminent pottery family, the Nampeyo descendants.
The original Nampeyo, like Maria Martinez at San Ildefonso Pueblo, was a key figure in reviving and expanding the luster of her tribe’s pottery.
Darlene is her great-great-granddaughter, and her mother is sister to some of the legendary names in Hopi – and contemporary – pottery: Dextra Quotskuyva, Eleanor Lucas, and Priscilla Namingha, all major award-winners.
Darlene Nampeyo’s pottery follows the high standards exemplified by this illustrious extended family’s work, and you can see it in this handsome plate.
The warm peachy-tan hue of Hopi clay glows behind a graphic pattern with both traditional symbolism and abstract expression.
Of course, the clay is locally gathered, mixed, coiled, smoothed, and stone-burnished, by hand,
It was pit fired, and the wonderfully symmetrical design was painted by hand, using red clay slips (the clay turns red during firing, but actually starts out yellow) and vegetal paints, derived from steeping plants like bee-weed, or wild spinach.
The identifiable symbolism is in the form of rainclouds around the perimeter and the star in the center. The cruciform design and the stars most likely refer to the four corners of the world (or the four directions).
This indicates that the blessings of the rain should extend to everyone, all over the earth.
Striking clarity and a beautifully balanced composition characterize the painting.
This is a bargain, for the quality of the piece, and the artist’s celebrated name.