Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sky city

Only in the Southerwestern parts of the United States will you find some of the most boring and drab colors in the scenery, the suddenly you're hit with small wave of color that surprises most. That's how I can conclude my trip out west: Full of Surprise.

We took my husband (who had never been west of the Mississippi river) to the Acoma Pue
blo nicknamed "Sky City" which is located on an off the road about fifteen minutes from Grants, NM; a small town which is near the New Mexico and Arizona border. The Acoma Pueblo sits on top of a mesa which overlooks stunning sceneries and distances between neighboring mesas, and desert lands.

The Acoma are thought to have branched off from descendants northern from the Chaco Canyon, and Mesa Verde regions. The stories the Acoma people tell are inspiring, and were provoking to my own creativity.

The pieces above are from an artist by the name of Carolyn Conchos, a native and resident of the Acoma Pueblo. I was fortunate to grab a shard necklace off of her before I boarded the bus off the mesa, and I definately don't regret my decision, because Carolyn's work is wonderf
ul, and hosts its own difference from the other artists on the Pueblo.

In her work you often see butterflies, which mean beauty, lizards, lady bugs, and humming birds. Carolyn learned from veteran potters on the Pueblo, and her sisters are from the Lewis family, which is one of the highly coveted potter families from the Pueblo. Carolyn's pieces can be seen in the Smithsonian collection, which celebrate Native American arts.

What caught me off guard was how the Acoma made their pottery. At first I thought it was a paddle technique used with a pinch pot method, but I was wrong, and after reading up on it, the Acoma use a coil pot technique, and they cover with white slip for a few layers before using a Yucca brush to paint on the final designs, which the slip, as well as scooping with a specia
lly grown gourd, gives them the nice smooth, and white finish that many of the neighboring Pueblos seem to lack.

I noticed during another trip up at the Taos pueblo that their clay is very dense, and often contains small shards of mica and other raw materials which show up in their finish pots, and quite often their pots look lumpy, and show some human handleage from the working process. ( A picture to the right is of a common pot found at Taos)

I learned a lot about the Acoma way, and I gathered a new appreciation for their techniques and designs on their pots. I was quite fond of some painted quails some of the natives had for sale, but couldn't budge to dish out the money.

I'm probably going to regret it.

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