Page 1

Up From The Center of The Earth Pueblo Art from the Tufts University Southwest Native American Collection

40 Talbot Avenue Medford, MA 02155 617-627-3518 Š Tufts University Art Gallery

Up From The Center of The Earth Pueblo Art from the Tufts University Southwest Native American Collection

From 2012 to 2014, students in American Studies courses taught by Dr. Joan A. Lester created exhibits using objects from the Tufts University Southwest Native American Art collection.

Pueblo Pottery (Spring 2013)


he pots in this case, collected in the mid-to-late 20th century, had never been exhibited. They come from 5 of the more than 20 still vital Pueblo communities in Arizona and New Mexico. Made for sale, these small pots support both cultural and economic survival. The students in the class strongly supported the idea that the voices of the Pueblo potters should speak for themselves about their ancestors, the living clay and their pottery. The class was guided by three Pueblo potters, Dolly Naranjo (Santa Clara), Serena Ebelacker (Santa Clara) and Noreen Simplico (Zuni). They served as consultants to assure an accurate presentation. Alex Barkin (A15) wrote: This process has taught me to listen to the voices that have been silenced and to stop talking over them. I've learned to step back. I've learned to say this is not mine and my voice has no place here. And I've done it gladly.

Alex Barkin A15, Rashad Davis A14, Scarlett Engle A15, Alex Goldman A15, Tamara Masri A14, Erin Stone A15

Forever Connected We have been here 40,000 years. From the bowels of the earth, we climbed through the sipapu, into the light of this, the fourth world. — Hopi Elder

Annasazi Pot Shards, c. 1000 AD, Private Collection Annasazi recreation, Michael Kanteena, Laguna

I feel we’re the direct descendants of the Annasazi. We have the direct link to the pottery they left behind, especially the pot shards. I feel they left them behind for us to use as inspirations for our designs. — Carmel Lewis, Acoma

The spirit of the ancestors are always here. They’re all around. If you call their spirits, they always come.” — Barbara Gonzalez, San Ildefonso

Vase: Evelyn Ortiz, Acoma Bowl: Anita Lowden, Acoma

Honoring Clay

The yellow clay turns red, the iron hematite turns black, the greyish tan becomes a natural peach, and the kaolin is white. — Noreen Simplicio, Zuni Pueblo

Whenever you go to get the clay you take your corn meal. You can’t go to Mother Clay without the corn meal and ask her permission to come touch her. — Margaret Tafoya, Santa Clara

Making pottery feels like meditation and you feel your ancestors there. — Sarena Eberlacker, Santa Clara

Muriel Nevaytewa Hopi Potter 1st Mesa, Arizona

Nancy Lewis Hopi Potter 1st Mesa, Arizona

R. Kallestewa Zuni potter Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico

Pottery Designs Every Hopi pottery design shows elements of nature like corn, clouds, or things that are above. The colors are important too. Red is the sun or rain. — Jean Sahmi, Hopi

All my pots have double lines…my mother called them spirit lines. It leaves a little opening on the top. It’s where the spirit can get out. — Crucito Melchor, Santo Domingo

Vase with Birdwing Loren Ami, Hopi pottery, First Mesa, Arizona

Bowl with Feathers Edwin Harris, Cochiti Potter, Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico

I made that wedding jar a long time ago; now I create Storyteller dolls.” — Judy Toya, Jemez Pueblo

left: Wedding Jar with Rain Clouds right: Storyteller Doll Judy Toya, Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico

Pottery Designs I am listening to what the pot is telling me to do, I am just the maker. — Dextra Quotskuvya, Hopi

The clay does speak to you because it’s a living thing. It knows what shapes it wants to be when you are forming it.” — Marie Romero, Jemez

Bowl with Mountains and Rain, Victoria Garcia, Acoma Potter, Sky City, Arizona

above: Vase with Kiva Steps, Rita Andrews, Hopi Potter, 1st Mesa, Arizona below: Jar with Bird Tail, Norma Ami, Bowl with Sunflowers, Alex Nahohai (?), Zuni Potter, Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico Hopi Potter, Polacca, Arizona.

The Owl is good luck. A long time ago when there were raids going on, the Owl alerted the Zunis that enemies were coming into the village. — Carlos Latte, Zuni

Zuni Owl, Victor Lahaleon, Zuni potter, Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico

Katsunim: Bringing Blessings (2012)


he second section of this case was developed by Clinton Oxford (A12) during a senior year independent study. He selected Hopi art work and writings to express the relationship between Katsina spirit beings, the dancers who embody the Katsina spirits, and the Hopi children who receive “tihu�, carved representations of the spirits, as gifts from the Katsina. He wrote: The quotations and exhibit labels are meant to preserve a sense of secrecy surrounding their beliefs. There are many spiritual details that are not meant for non-Hopi to know. I hope to respect this notion as Hopi voices narrate the Katsina tradition.

Clinton Oxford A12

Spirits Kachinum: With Sun’s first light they filed into the Center of flower-covered-cliffs on brilliant rays Spirits from metaphysical Dimensions hair flowing like rain their dance swaying like tall pines in mountain breeze their breath

This then is the way it began many years ago in the middle of this vast continent. During the Emergence from the Underworld, the Katsinas came up with the Hopi from the womb of Mother Earth. Every year since then, the Katsinas come to help the people bringing blessings. They are respected spirits: spirits of the dead, spirits of mineral, plant, animal, and human entities; of clouds, other planets, stars that have not yet appeared in our sky; spirits of all the invisible forces of life. During the six months they are hear, the Katsinas manifest themselves in physical form. The masked men who represent them are kastinas, losing their personal identities and being imbued with the spirits of the beings they represent. — White Bear (Kacha Honawah) Coyote clan

Then with solemnness the kachina dance to life heart-beat of drums pouring forth kachina poetry that reveal the spirituality of hopi kachina kachina feelings kachina life kachina wisdom kachina prayer the kachina way As father the Sun follows its east-west sky road enlightened by the holiness of the KACHINUM Michael Kabotie, Lomawywesa

Drawing by J. David, Hopi Artist


These ceremonies are the most important events in our lives. They’re literally prayers to be watched with reverence and respect. When you’ve been watching the Katsinas all day, you can’t help feeling the sincerity and dedication behind it all. — Fred Kabotie, Nakayoma

Katsina is the Spiritual Guardian of Hopi life. For several months, commencing with the Winter Solstice, various Katsinas descend upon the Hopi villages to convey their blessing and renew their relationships with the Hopi people. In a variety of ceremonies, Katsina spirits, represented by eligible village members, transmit their blessings and messages through prayer, dance, and song. — Hartman H. Lomawaima, Bear Clan


To the Hopi, and especially to the Hopi child, the carved “tihu” is a memento of that first special meeting between the child and his or her Katsina friend. This contact, which begins at infancy and continues throughout the person’s life, creates a strong spiritual bond. — Hartman H. Lomawaima, Bear Clan


he six enthusiastic and open minded students in my 2013 Native American pottery class led to an exciting and challenging semester. We first looked at past and present issues that impact Native people across Indian America (stereotypes, the question of who gets to tell the Native stories, and past limitations of museums exhibitions) then focused on learning about Pueblo potters, from ancient times to the present, and throughout, kept in mind our goal of the identification and exhibition of the Pueblo pottery in the Tufts collection These pots collected in the mid to late 20th century have never before been exhibited. They come from 5 of the more than 20 still vital Pueblo village communities in New Mexico and Arizona. The pots are lovely examples of small pottery made for sale, supporting cultural and economic survival. Today, potters continue to use age old coiling and firing methods, but they are also adding new forms, new images, and experimenting with new techniques, such as carving, etching, inlay and acrylic painting.

My thanks to wonderful students, American Studies, and the Tufts Universtity Art Gallery for their support, gallery staff members Laura McDonald and John Rossetti, and of course, our Pueblo advisors.

~ Dr. Joan A. Lester American Studies

Alexandra Barkin The privilege of working on this exhibit was exactly that—a privilege. As Richard Schickel acknowledges, Americans have a tendency to, “when they venture into foreign lands hoping to do good,” come “equipped only with knowhow instead of sympathy and respect for alien traditions,” (The Disney Version, 227). This process has taught me to end that cycle, to listen to the voices that have been silenced and ignored for thousands of years, and to stop talking over them. I’ve learned to step back. I’ve learned to say, “this is not mine” and “my voice has no place here.” And I’ve done it gladly. The culture of Pueblo potters is one of respect and reverence for every part of the process and journey that is creating pottery. It’s beautiful in a way that I could have never comprehended without Native voices at the forefront. These are not just pots. Pottery is not just an occupation. It is tradition and story telling and self-expression. It is a voice in and of itself, if you take the time to learn the language.

Rashad Malik Davis I am Rashad Malik Davis, a class of 2013 Tufts student with a passion for the arts and beauty in all its forms. Professor Joan Lester and her course have inspired me to continue in the pursuit of art as a form of self-healing and self-reflection, simultaneously encouraging me to understand my own Native ancestry and background also. This exhibit and the process of creating it with a group of likeminded individuals has been invaluable, ultimately leaving me with a deep appreciation for Native cultures and a deeper understanding of myself as well.

Scarlett Engle I am a sophomore studying Archaeology and Art History. First of all I want to say that it has been an honor and a privilege to be able to work on this exhibit. The message and idea that I want to be taken from this exhibit is the strong connection that native people have with the earth and their past. While creating this exhibit, this idea has been reinforced tenfold. This connection is something that I think is difficult for many non-natives to understand, and I hope that our exhibit can help to explain this. The entire process of pottery creation is engrained in the land and the past. The connection that native people have with their past astounds me. It is as if the past is still alive today in their traditions and customs.

Alex Goldman As a ceramicist, I was raised being taught to create uniform series. Perfect sphericity is attained by centering a lump of chemically calculated lump of artificially created clay. It is fired in an electric kiln and slathered with chemical glazes, carefully mixed from a recipe. I was taught that this was how to create work, but I am so grateful to know another way. Curating this exhibit gave me incredible reverence for the “made by hand� approach to Native American Pueblo pottery. Handmade coils replace the motorized wheel, and clay is received from the earth rather than from a chemical recipe. The connection of this modern native pottery to the past is powerful and beautiful, both in process and motifs, and it deserves to be appreciated and respected. I have learned incredible amounts about the deep connection between the old and new. I hope that this exhibit will show how the difference between them may not be so vast after all.

Tamara Masri I am a junior studying Anthropology, focusing on the relationship between colonialism, humans and the environment. In studying and exhibiting this Native American pottery, I developed a deep appreciation for understanding the holistic history of the continent from which this clay is made. It is a history that includes Native Americans who have passed on traditions, identities, craft, and art as an act of defiance, beauty and survivance. The designs passed on from generation to generation seem to have been inspired by kiva steps, “the four directions�, weather signs, abstractions of the bird symbol, and signifiers of rain and fertility. These interpretations are based on resources that historians and anthropologists such as Ruth Bunzel have collected from Pueblo potters. That being said, it is important to remember that the answers to the true meanings behind these designs lie with the ancestors that left the ancient pot shards behind, continuing to keep these symbols alive in Pueblo pottery today. I sincerely hope that this exhibit does justice in paying respect to the clay, pueblos, potters and inspirations that have brought these works into existence.

Erin Stone It has been an honor and a privilege to be able to work with this collection of pottery this semester. These pots embody an entire history of the many people that are part of the Southwestern pueblos today and they embody part of an holistic history of the United States of America. I am grateful to have been a part of putting on this exhibit, but I am especially grateful to our Native advisors and the many people I have met and learned from in this process: Linda Coombs and the Wampanoag people I met at Plimoth Plantation, Sarena Ebelacker and our professor Joan Lester.

THREE PUEBLO POTTERS: OUR EXHIBIT ADVISORS Dolly Naranjo (left) and Sarena Ebelacker (center) from Santa Clara Pueblo, and Noreen Simplicio (right) from Zuni Pueblo have reviewed the exhibit plans and taken the time to offer suggestions and ask for changes, to assure that this presentation is accurate and respectful. We are especially grateful to Sarena Ebelacker, a potter and exhibit designer, presently in the Boston area, who has worked with us on site and provided invaluable guidance.

KARL E GILMONT: COLLECTOR Karl E. Gilmont (1928-2001) from Newport News, Virgina, collected these 10 Pueblo pots and generously donated them to Tufts. An anthropologist and professor, he enjoyed learning about Native American teachings and in the late 1970’s worked on the Navaho reservation. lt was his wish that Tufts students would be able to see and study these pots, a wish which is now being fulfilled.

Up From The Center of the Earth  
Up From The Center of the Earth