Native American Art
184. Description: Ca. 1980's, Beautiful poly chrome lizard pot by one of Lucy's daughters, Emma Lewis. Very good condition. 4" x 5".
Emma Lewis-Mitchell was born in 1931 into the Acoma Sky City Pueblo. She is one of the daughters of the world renowned late, Lucy M. Lewis.
Emma was around great pottery artists her whole life, however, her greatest inspiration came down from her mother, Lucy.
Emma was a self taught artisan, she learned the ancient traditional methods of working with clay by carefully observing Lucy construct her beautiful pottery vessels. Emma chose to continue the long lived tradition of working with pottery, and using the ancient methods passed down to her from her grandmothers because of the importance to keep her peoples traditions alive. Emma gathers her own natural pigments and clays from the clay pits within the Acoma Pueblo. She cleans her clay for impurities by hand, then, she hand mixes, hand coils, hand paints, and uses a traditional firing method to add the finishing touch to her wonderful masterpieces which mother earth has blessed her with.
The Lewis family keeps the same patterns and does not move to a contemporary style because it is very important to them to keep alive true traditions and designs of the ancient mimbres people alive. Some of these designs which are replicated are the deer with a heartline, lightning bolt pattern, and the many variations of the mimbres patterns. Lucy was the driving force behind the revival of pottery making as an art in the Pueblo of the Acoma.
Emma is also related to Dolores Lewis-Garcia, Carmel Lewis (sisters), and Drew Lewis (brother).
There are many books on Lucy M. Lewis and her daughters, information on these fine artisans can be found in:
-Southern Pueblo Pottery 2,000 Artist Biographies
-Fourteen Families in pueblo pottery
-Southwestern pottery Anasazi to Zuni
-Talking with the Clay
-American Indian Pottery 2nd Edition
-Seven Families in Pueblo Pottery
-Santa Fe Indian Market Various 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place numerous years
-Eight Northern 1st various years
-Heard Museum show
-New Mexico State Fair
-Others received too many to list
Source: Indian Artists of New Mexico)
A History of Pueblo Pottery:
Pueblo pottery is made using a coiled technique that came into northern Arizona and New Mexico from the south, some 1500 years ago. In the four-corners region of the US, nineteen pueblos and villages have historically produced pottery. Although each of these pueblos use similar traditional methods of coiling, shaping, finishing and firing, the pottery from each is distinctive. Various clay's gathered from each pueblo's local sources produce pottery colors that range from buff to earthy yellows, oranges, and reds, as well as black. Fired pots are sometimes left plain and other times decorated most frequently with paint and occasionally with applique. Painted designs vary from pueblo to pueblo, yet share an ancient iconography based on abstract representations of clouds, rain, feathers, birds, plants, animals and other natural world features.
Tempering materials and paints, also from natural sources, contribute further to the distinctiveness of each pueblo's pottery. Some paints are derived from plants, others from minerals. Before firing, potters in some pueblos apply a light colored slip to their pottery, which creates a bright background for painted designs or simply a lighter color plain ware vessel. Designs are painted on before firing, traditionally with a brush fashioned from yucca fiber.
Different combinations of paint color, clay color, and slips are characteristic of different pueblos. Among them are black on cream, black on buff, black on red, dark brown and dark red on white (as found in Zuni pottery), matte red on red, and poly chrome a number of natural colors on one vessel (most typically associated with Hopi). Pueblo potters also produce un-decorated polished black ware, black on black ware, and carved red and carved black wares.
Making pueblo pottery is a time-consuming effort that includes gathering and preparing the clay, building and shaping the coiled pot, gathering plants to make the colored dyes, constructing yucca brushes, and, often, making a clay slip. While some Pueblo artists fire in kilns, most still fire in the traditional way in an outside fire pit, covering their vessels with large potsherds and dried sheep dung. Pottery is left to bake for many hours, producing a high-fired result.
Today, Pueblo potters continue to honor this centuries-old tradition of hand-coiled pottery production, yet value the need for contemporary artistic expression as well. They continue to improve their style, methods and designs, often combining traditional and contemporary techniques to create striking new works of art. (Source: Museum of Northern Arizona)
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