Bernice, originally from Taos Pueblo, married Tito Naranjo, of Santa Clara Pueblo.
Her illustrious in-laws include Jody Folwell and Nora Naranjo-Morse.
The talent continues on for generations: Bernice is the mother of Caroline Elliot, Dusty Naranjo and grandmother of Johnathan Naranjo, all award-winning potters, as well.
Bernice’s incised pottery has won many awards at Santa Fe Indian Market and the Heard Museum Market.
Her work is noted for her elegant forms, fine sgrafitto (etched) designs, and lovingly rendered nature motifs. This jar is a handsome example, unusually, with a mostly matte surface, and deeper carving.
The neck of the piece is, square, in wonderful contrast to the rest of the form; shaped into voluptuous curves, with circular motifs.
From neck to shoulder, the jar is decorated with seven rows of dark circles, graduated in size to emphasize the shape of the piece.
These circular dots represent raindrops; the dark band around the shoulder is interrupted with a stepped rain symbol on all four sides.
Rain is welcomed with delight, in the high desert, and the design suggests it should extend to all four corners of the world.
The bottom half of the jar is lavishly decorated with complex designs of turtles, within circles, surrounded by exuberant sprays of abstract feather forms, in various sizes.
Turtles live in and around water, so are symbols of very good luck, and feathers are believed to carry prayers and hopes up to the heavens.
The wish depicted on this lovely pot is for plenty of water, so crops will abound.
Every turtle is individually etched, with a different shape and design for each one.
The circles in which they are placed are mostly dark, as are the feathers, and stone polished.
Around the hip, the fine lines surrounding some turtles represent rainfall; others are scalloped with curvy cloud symbols, and more.
The base clay has been given a stippled surface, and the designs from the shoulder up are all matte.
The dark clay slip, which has been mostly carved away, has been burnished, on the lower half of the piece.
On both the matte and polished areas, faint sparkles of mica, suffused in the clay, can be seen.
Expertly, the artist has combined lusciously rounded and straight-edged forms and lines, creating an unusual, gently striking piece.
Completely hand made, from finding and gathering the clay, to coiling, forming, smoothing, etching and firing the pot in the ground, this is a beautiful and uncommon jar, by this celebrated potter.
Traditional materials, traditional methods and traditional symbols are transformed into a gorgeous piece of pottery that has a modern appeal.