A remarkable piece, which just won a red ribbon at the Cherokee Nation Fair, a prominent Mid-Western Native art show. This is a splendid blend of Jemez and Chickasaw traditions – which reflects the artist’s own background. It portrays a Chickasaw legend in Jemez clay and style.
The story behind it is as beautiful as the pot itself: An ornery, sick old man was visited by a woodpecker, who told him (in those days, animals could speak, according to the legend) he could heal the old man, if he would follow the bird. He did; the woodpecker pecked holes in a piece of cane, and taught the old man how to play it, and some beautiful songs, as well.
When the old man returned home and played the songs learned from the woodpecker, people began to draw close to the old man, sick, ornery, and lonely no more. That is how the flute came to the Chickasaw people, to heal body and spirit. (A copy of this story, and the prize ribbon, are included with the pot.)
The pot is spectacular: impressive in size, elegantly formed with impeccable technique, and decorated with restraint and artistry. The combination of matte and glossy, stone-polished surfaces is beautifully orchestrated, along with plain and carved areas.
The artist’s signature swirl pattern is suggested in the crisply carved, polished spiral circles on either side of the center olla. A triangular area behind the woodpecker’s head is also stone polished.
The woodpecker’s head and tail extend organically from either end of the olla, as if the bowl were its body. Leaving these areas unadorned, and matte, emphasizes the spiritual and quality of the legend.
Standing in the bowl itself, is a micaceous covered clay flute. This glittering object, again, suggests the magical aspect.
Every aspect of this piece is extraordinary, from concept to form, to balance of carved, plain, matte and stone-polished elements, to faultless execution. Absolutely traditional in the making, it started with hand-gathered clay, that was mixed, coiled, smoothed, formed, and polished by hand, and pit-fired.
As much sculpture as pottery, this piece will create a Wow! effect in your home.