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Autumn Borts-Medlock

Autumn Borts-Medlock is one of the great young innovative potters of Santa Clara Pueblo. Her renowned family includes Sister Tammy Garcia, Mother Linda Cain, Grandmother Mary Cain, and Great-Grandmother Christina Naranjo. Autumn has said of her work; Growing up in Santa Clara Pueblo, in a family whose connection to the clay goes back generations, pottery has always been a part of my life. I was introduced to the art form as a child, making my first formal attempts at clay work under the guidance of my mother and grandmother. Working exclusively in the ancient traditional Pueblo technique of coil-building, they shaped bowls, vases, and plates from clay they had gathered from the hillsides near the village and processed themselves. Nearby, I sculpted animal figurines and nativity scenes from the moist clay, always welcoming the gentle hands that occasionally reached down to direct or redirect my efforts. These lessons solidified my connection to the clay and gave me the skills to move into coil work. Within a few years, I worked alongside my mother and grandmother, making pottery from clay that I was now helping to gather and process. Drawing from the spiritual symbolism and nature-oriented design aesthetics of Tewa culture, we carved the shapes of kiva steps, bear paws, feathers, rain clouds, water serpents, and lightning bolts into the surface of the vessels. Next, we used smooth stones to polish them to a shiny, mirror-like finish. Then, we waited for a calm, wind-free morning to fire them outdoors in flames kindled by thin, fragrant sticks of red cedar. We watched the timing down to the second in hopes of keeping our long-labored creations from succumbing to this always-risky phase of the pottery-making process. Learning directly from these two extraordinary artists was a gift, and they remain among my strongest influences even now.”  Autumn has won numerous awards for her pottery at Santa Fe Indian Market, and her work is in the permanent collections of museums such as the Denver Art Museum and the Heard Museum. Her pottery continues to charm and intrigue with her distinctive and intricately designed imagery.