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Louise Goodman
Bear
1990
fired clay with piņon pitch
22 1/4 x 10 5/8 x 10 7/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak and museum purchase made possible by Mrs. Snowden A. Fahnestock



A contemporary exponent of a longstanding Navajo pottery tradition, Goodman has produced simple vessels and utilitarian objects. When the demand for functional works decreased in the 1980s she turned to animal figures. Her stylized bears are notable for their small heads and legs and substantial torsos, as well as surface textures that mimic a bear's thick fur. Goodman's choice of the bear reflects the important role this animal has played in the lives of the Navajo and other Native American communities. A key source of food and of materials for clothing, shelter, and ceremonial objects, they are also important as emblems of power and plenitude.