Pot with Applied Bird and Arrow Decoration

Copied Sue Williams, Pot with Applied Bird and Arrow Decoration, ca. 1990, fired clay with piñon pitch, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson, 1997.124.184

Artwork Details

Title
Pot with Applied Bird and Arrow Decoration
Artist
Date
ca. 1990
Dimensions
17 1415 12 in. (43.839.4 cm) diam.
Credit Line
Gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson
Mediums
Mediums Description
fired clay with piñon pitch
Classifications
Keywords
  • Animal — bird
Object Number
1997.124.184

Artwork Description

Sue Williams made Pot with Applied Bird and Arrow Decoration using traditional Navajo techniques, but she gave her design a contemporary twist. Traditional Navajo pottery typically has little ornamentation, apart from a decorative band, called a biyo', just below the rim. A small break in the biyo' called the atin ("the way out") enables the potter’s life force to escape from the pot. The Navajo believe that during the process of creation the potter’s spirit is transferred to the vessel; thus it would be bad luck to close the circle and trap the maker's spirit within the pot. In this piece, Williams does away with both features and gives her geometric designs some sparkle by embedding glitter in the pitch coating.