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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Folk Art: Folk Ceramics: Bear
Bear


Bear
1990
Louise Goodman
fired clay with piñon pitch
22 1/4 x 10 5/8 x 10 7/8 in. (56.5 x 27.0 x 27.6 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak and museum purchase made possible by Mrs. Gibson Fahnestock
1997.124.154
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"If you want to get money out of them, you gotta shake them." The artist, quoted in Chuck and Jan Rosenak, The People Speak: Navajo Folk Art, 1994

Ceramist Louise Goodman started making animals and other decorative pieces in the 1980s when she noticed a decline in demand for her functional clay objects. Creating animal figures was common among Navajo potters at the time and Goodman became well known for her playful bears. The bears, with their stubby limbs and exaggerated torsos, became Goodman's most popular pieces. She often added an unexpected detail—a slot in the back to make the bear into a piggy bank. This transformation from figurine to piggy bank is especially fitting as the bear often represents power and plenitude in the Navajo culture.


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Luce Center for American Art