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Elizabeth White

Elizabeth White

Elizabeth White is truly one of the amazing stories from Hopi. She grew up at Orabi on Third Mesa at Hopi and became a teacher. After she retired from teaching in 1954 began making pottery. The fascinating story of her early life is documented in her book, "No Turning Back." In 1978 she was awarded both the Arizona Indian Living Treasure tribute and the Heard Museum’s Gold Medal. In 1991 she was inducted into the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame. Her pottery uses the various colors of Hopi clay, and much of it has a very utilitarian appearance. She also began the style of using a single ear of corn as a design in repousse (pushed out from the inside) on her pottery. Her pottery is all signed in the clay with her Hopi name Polingaysi, which means, "butterfly sitting among the flowers in the breeze". The legacy of Elizabeth continues in the pottery of her nephew Al Qoyawayma. It is not often that we find Elizabeth's pottery, and there is always such a wonderful charm in their traditional yet simple shapes and forms.

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White, Elizabeth – Large Red Jar with Bean Dance Figures (1970’s)

Elizabeth White created distinctive pottery using the various colors of Hopi clay. She originated the use of the ear of corn as a design in repousse (pushed out from the inside) on her pottery. Her pottery is all signed in the clay with her Hopi name Polingaysi, which means, “butterfly sitting among the flowers in the breeze”.  This jar is one of her classic narrow jars with two ears of corn.  The coloration of the clay is the traditional red clay (well, reddish-orange), which is used in Hopi pottery.  The coloration is striking on this larger jar.   The entire piece is stone polished in a vertical manner and the figures are matte.  There are two figures, which are taken from an Awatovi mural design.  They are part of the winter “Bean Ceremony” when they grow bean sprouts in the kivas. The figures are pushed out from the inside of the jar, not applique on top of the surface.  The jar is in good condition and a few rough area in the matte.  Interestingly, Polingaysi was a school teacher and taught at Hopi and  Navajo schools for almost 40 years.  On retirement from teaching, she became an artist, a poet, and a philosopher.  Her career as a potter was begun late in life, after her retirement, so there is very little of her work available.  This is certainly one of the largest pieces we have had of her work in the gallery.  The last photo is one of Elizabeth White working on this piece! Definitely check out the work of her nephew, Al Qoyawayma for comparison and the evolution of this style!

$ 5,500.00
White, Elizabeth – Red Clay Jar with Double Corn (1981)

Elizabeth White created distinctive pottery using the various colors of Hopi clay. She originated the use of the ear of corn as a design in repousse (pushed out from the inside) on her pottery. Her pottery is all signed in the clay with her Hopi name Polingaysi, which means, “butterfly sitting among the flowers in the breeze”.  This jar is one of her classic narrow jars with two ears of corn.  The coloration of the clay is the traditional red clay (well, reddish-orange), which is used in Hopi pottery.  The coloration is striking on this larger jar.   The entire piece is stone polished to a high shine except for the two ears of corn which are unpolished matte.  The narrow shape is very much like the jars that her nephew Al Qoyawayma makes which he calls “wish pots”.  He tells the story that the name comes from Elizabeth as she said people would look at the pieces and say, “I wish I could have one”.  This jar is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  Interestingly, Polingaysi was a school teacher and taught at Hopi and  Navajo schools for almost 40 years.  On retirement from teaching, she became an artist, a poet, and a philosopher.  Her career as a potter was begun late in life, after her retirement, so there is very little of her work available.  This jar was originally purchased in 1981.  It is a classic of her work and an important addition to any collection!

$ 1,800.00
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