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Helen Cordero

Helen Cordero making a storyteller.

Helen Cordero

Helen Cordero was a daughter of Caronline Quintana and a sister of Trinidad Herrera. Her son George was also a potter as well as her granddaughter Buffy Cordero. Helen married Fred Cordero, an artist, drum-maker, and governor of Cochiti Pueblo.  Helen began creating pottery birds and animals that her husband painted.  Then Helen began creating the storyteller figures in 1964 as a way to honor her grandfather, Santiago Quintana.   Helen won numerous awards for her pottery and was featured in over 25 issues of American Indian Art Magazine and on the cover of National Geographic magazine. Her Storyteller design became popular with other pottery-makers, who have created variations, including animal storytellers. To distinguish her work and to fulfill the expectations of some collectors, Helen began signing her works. After the success of the Storyteller, Helen eventually drew more from her experiences and went on to develop other types including, drummers, singing mothers, Pueblo father, and Hopi maiden. Helen Cordero was honored as a Santa Fe Living Treasure in May of 1985,  she was made an NEA National Heritage Fellow in 1986. Helen Cordero Primary School, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is named after her.

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Cordero, Helen – Grandfather Storyteller with 12 Kids

Helen Cordero is undoubtedly one of the great names in Cochiti pottery.  It was in 1964 that Cordero said she made her first storyteller.  According to her, “I made some more of my Storytellers with lots of children climbing on him to listen, then I took them up to the Santo Domingo Feast Day” and the rest is history.  Her pieces were all males, to honor her grandfather, whom she would hear telling children stories of Pueblo life and culture.  She received the New Mexico Governor’s award in 1982 and the NEA Heritage Fellowship in 1986.  This storyeller is one of her pieces from the 1970’s.  It is complex in terms of its painting and figurative work.  There are twelve children all around the figure. Each one is dressed differently and they are very interactive with one another.  Note the details on the larger figure, including the sash on the side and the squash blossom necklace!  The piece is signed  on the bottom, “Helen Cordero”.  It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  It is not often that we see one of her storytellers with so many children and with such intricate designs.  Definitely a classic!

$ 9,800.00
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