Indian Women Making Pottery

  • Catharine Carter Critcher, Indian Women Making Pottery, ca. 1924, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Arvin Gottlieb, 1991.205.6

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The three figures in this painting form a triangle that echoes the decoration on the white earthenware vase in the foreground. A cabinet behind the women holds more pots bearing the distinctive shapes and colors favored by different southwestern pueblos. The cabinet and the open door show that this is an Anglo household---probably Catherine Critcher's studio---and the artist probably composed this image from different moments she had sketched in the Indian villages. In these communities, men as well as women dedicate their lives to crafting pots, but early in the twentieth century the best-known potters were women. Critcher's canvas is a tribute to the traditions handed down through generations. The matriarch of this group very likely taught the two younger women how to build a clay vessel and how to grind colored corn and other natural pigments for paint. Indian Women Making Pottery indirectly reflects Critcher's own success as an artist. She painted this canvas at about the time she was invited to join the Taos Society of Artists, the only woman to be so honored.

Indian Women Making Pottery
ca. 1924
Not on view
40 1/8 x 37 1/8 in. (101.9 x 94.3 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Arvin Gottlieb

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Figure group
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