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Nathan Youngbloodnathan youngblood

Nathan Youngblood is a grandson of noted potter Margaret Tafoya and the son of Mela Youngblood.  In 1976 he moved in with his grandparents and began an intense apprenticeship making pottery under their guidance.  Attention to the small details was also imparted to him by his mother and grandmother. The precision of his work is particularly evident in his forms, which have a near geometric perfection in shape and symmetry.  Nathan says, “I realize I don’t make pots, I’m just involved in the process. The clay does what it wants to do, goes where it wants to go.  I stick my hands in the clay and where it goes, I follow.”

Nathan’s clay art has evolved dramatically throughout his career.  His early work focused on classic Santa Clara shapes and designs. In the early 1990s, Nathan re-examined his experiences with art from around the world and how it could be incorporated as part of his designs.  His love of Asian ceramics influenced how he designed his pottery and how he utilized matte and polished surfaces to emphasize form.  The designs seemed to be more complicated, less linear, and more ethereal in concept.  He “opened the door for other potters to use clay as a vehicle for their personal and cultural experiences.”

Over the years Nathan has won over 140 awards for his pottery. He is one of only a handful of Santa Clara potters who use natural clay slips to create color contrasts of red and tan in his pottery.  This combination of polished red and tan sections with matte or micaceous surfaces has become the new Santa Clara “polychrome.”  Throughout his career, he has continually built on the lessons learned from his mother and grandmother. This legacy has created a solid foundation for the evolution of his pottery and “he has set the bar high for any potter to balance creativity, innovation, and technical expertise.”.

An Interview with Nathan   Learn More about Pottery Making

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Youngblood, Nathan -Black Tear Drop Shaped Plate

Nathan Youngblood is one of the few Pueblo potters who creates large and intricately carved plates.  In addition to the round and oval ones, he has also created his own distinctive form of the “tear drop” shape.  This piece is coil built, carved, stone polished and traditionally fired. He designed this plate so that it has a “shield-like” appearance with a central medallion and the designs emanating out from the center.  The imagery is all cloud and rain patterns.  The band extending out from the center are slipped with a micaceous clay, creating another visual contrast from the matte and polished surfaces.  The polished areas here are perfectly polished to a “glass-like” appearance.  The piece is signed on the back with his name and Tewa name hallmark meaning “Deer Path”.   The plate comes in a metal museum mount made specifically for this piece.

$ 12,800.00
Youngblood, Nathan – Tri-Color Jar with Handles

Nathan Youngblood is well known for his deeply carved pottery and use of both traditional Santa Clara and other designs.  This jar is made in the shape of the classic “bean pot.”  The neck and base are both polished tan, while the center carved areas are polished red and the handles are matte. The red carved sections are a cloud design, and note a similar cloud pattern around the handles!  There is a band of lightning designs in tan below the red areas.  The deep red clay slip on this jar is exceptional and contrasts perfectly with the tan and matte areas.  While the shape, carving, and designing might seem like enough, Nathan also takes his pottery one step further. After it is fired, he uses small screwdrivers and scrapes the sides of the carved designs and the recessed areas, to create a visually striking contrast.  This style has been called, “the new Santa Clara polychrome,” although I usually called it “tri-color” with the variations of red, matte and buff areas. The jar was traditionally fired which creates some contrast in the tan areas.

$ 6,500.00
Youngblood, Nathan – Jar with Impressed Night Hawk, Owl & Star

This is a creative jar by Nathan Youngblood which is part of his series, “The Space Between”.  These pieces are inspired by the early carved work of Sarafina Tafoya (1863-1949) and Margaret Tafoya (1904-2001).  This jar is a shape with high sides.  Nathan has carved around the shoulder of the piece with a rain and walking bear paw design.  Note the depth of the carving!  The section is very highly polished.  The remainder of the jar is slipped with mica.  This designs on the jar are inspired by the impressed designs on Sarafina Tafoya’s early work.   There is an impressed owl, moon, star, and Nighthawk.  Each of these images can be found on several of Sarafina’s original twelve carved vessels. The last photos show a group of these pieces.  The surrounding area has a mica clay slip over the impressed designs.  It is a very creative and inspired jar!  It is signed on the bottom in the clay with his name and deer tracks, which represent his name in Tewa, which means “Deer Path”.

“The Space Between”: Santa Clara Carved Pottery 1920-Present

$ 4,500.00
Youngblood, Nathan – Jar with Bear Paw and Impressed Avanyu

This is a striking jar by Nathan Youngblood which is part of his series, “The Space Between”.  These pieces are inspired by the early carved work of Sarafina Tafoya (1863-1949) and Margaret Tafoya (1904-2001).  This jar is a shape which is reminiscent of the work of Margaret Tafoya with the low shoulder and sloping side.  It is a great shape for Nathan’s deeply carved designs.  The jar has a central medallion which is impressed with a bear paw in the style of Sarafina Tafoya.  Note the elongated fingers of the paw.  As I wrote in “Born of Fire”:

“The symbol most directly associated with Sara Fina is the bear paw, which has been used on Santa Clara pottery since at least 1200 ad (Peterson 1997, 55). Its use comes from an old legend: during a time of drought at the pueblo, a bear led the people to a freshwater spring and saved them.  As Margaret explained it, “The bear always knows where the water is, and this is a design we put on the water jar, the storage jar”.

Below the medallion is an impressed avanyu.  This is one of the designs used by Sarafina in 1922 on some of her first “carved” vessels.  Nathan said that he wanted to explore this idea and try an impressed design.  He said there was an unexpected difficulty in polishing so many angles in the impressed pattern.  The result is quite stunning.  Take a look at the photo of the bottom of the jar and you can get a great view of the avanyu from a different angle!  The remainder of the jar is carved with a mountain and cloud pattern which encircles the piece.  It is a complex design yet ties together the imagery of the bear paw and the avanyu.

The red clay slip is deep and rich in coloration and the jar was traditionally fired.  The polishing is spectacular on this jar with an amazing shine from the stone polished surface!  While the shape, carving, and designing might seem like enough, Nathan also takes his pottery one step further. After it is fired, he uses small screwdrivers and scrapes the sides of the carved designs and the recessed areas, to create a visually striking contrast.  It is signed on the bottom in the clay with his name and deer tracks, which represent his name in Tewa, which means “Deer Path”.

“The Space Between”: Santa Clara Carved Pottery 1920-Present

$ 6,800.00
Youngblood, Nathan – Jar with Raindrop Rim and Carved Avanyu

This is a striking jar by Nathan Youngblood which is part of his series, “The Space Between”.  These pieces are inspired by the early carved work of Sarafina Tafoya (1863-1949) and Margaret Tafoya (1904-2001).  This jar is a wide shape and the rim is carved in a fluted or “raindrop” shape. This is a style which was used by Sarafina Tafoya on many of her early jars.  The last photo is a jar by Sarafina and you can see the “raindrop” rim.  Nathan said this may be the thinnest rim he has ever made on one of his pieces and still be able to stone polish both sides!

The jar is carved with a water serpent encircling the piece.  The body of the avanyu consists of cloud, water and kiva step designs.  Nathan says of the design:

“The water serpent (avanyu) is not what people think of a ‘water snake’.  It is a reference to the way the rivers run.  They are all integrated and connect everything.  Creeks become streams, streams become rivers which become oceans.  The oceans are fed by everything around the world.  It binds us. That is why when we go to the water and throw in cornmeal and pray.  The water and water serpent connect us to the entire world.”

The red clay slip is deep and rich in coloration and the jar was traditionally fired.  The polishing is spectacular on this jar with an amazing shine from the stone polished surface!  While the shape, carving, and designing might seem like enough, Nathan also takes his pottery one step further. After it is fired, he uses small screwdrivers and scrapes the sides of the carved designs and the recessed areas, to create a visually striking contrast.  It is signed on the bottom in the clay with his name and deer tracks, which represent his name in Tewa, which means “Deer Path”.   Simply stunning!

“The Space Between”: Santa Clara Carved Pottery 1920-Present

$ 7,500.00
Youngblood, Nathan –  Double Tri-Color Tear Drop Plates

This is the first time Nathan Youngblood has created a double set of plates in the teardrop shape.  Has has made a similar style with the floating center medallion using round plates.  However, there is an increased level of difficulty in creating this concept with his signature teardrop form. The plate is made and then the “inner” teardrop plate is cut away.  Nathan then designs both of the plates so that they visually function as one unit. The inner plate has a lightning and rain design.  Note on the upper edge the deer track and the star.  “Deer Path” is his name in Tewa and so he will often use that imagery in his designs.  The outer plate has a rain and walking bear paw design around the base and above are clouds.  The rim of both pieces is polished tan, while the center is carved and polished red.  After the two pieces were fired, we had a stand made so that they would sit together. When looking straight on, it appears to be one piece.  When looking from the side, the inner plate extends forward.  The deep red clay slip on these plates is exceptional and contrasts perfectly with the tan areas.  While the shape, carving, and designing might seem like enough, Nathan also takes his pottery one step further. After it is fired, he uses small screwdrivers and scrapes the sides of the carved designs and the recessed areas, to create a visually striking contrast.  It is signed on the back in the clay with his name and deer tracks, which represent his name in Tewa.

$ 16,500.00
Youngblood, Nathan – Jar with Walking Bear Paw and Key Hole Designs

This jar by Nathan Youngblood has a traditional storage jar shape.  The jar is carved around the center with a walking bear paw design along with a keyhole doorway design. As the jar is turned there are additional cloud designs.  The carved designs are large but striking in appearance. The top and bottom sections are fully polished to Nathan’s glass-like appearance.  Simple. Elegant.  The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay “Nathan Youngblood” and the hallmark of his name in Tewa.

$ 6,800.00
Youngblood, Nathan – Avanyu & Dragon Tri-Color Jar

Nathan Youngblood has long taken inspiration from the world around him.  His work for decades has drawn inspiration from both Pueblo and Asian art.  When he was a young boy, while his father was in the military, they were stationed in the Netherlands, and he said he would often go to the museums and look at Asian ceramics.  That has been a life-long love affair with those distinctive forms and designs.  This jar has a very Asian form and the designs play out the duality at times found in his art.  Around the shoulder on one side is a dragon and then the opposite a water serpent (avanyu).  Each facing the other.  There are two opposing medallions, one with Pueblo clouds and the other a cipher.  Around the neck is a band of clouds and around the base, in tan, is a band of clouds, wind and eagle feathers. The deep red clay slip on this jar is exceptional and contrasts perfectly with the tan and matte areas.  While the shape, carving, and designing might seem like enough, Nathan also takes his pottery one step further. After it is fired, he uses small screwdrivers and scrapes the sides of the carved designs and the recessed areas, to create a visually striking contrast.  This style has been called, “the new Santa Clara polychrome”, although I usually called it “tri-color” with the variations of red, matte and buff areas. The jar was traditionally fired.  The result of various levels of color and imagery make for an exceptional jar that is certainly a reflection of how Native art has become a world art, and the two are meeting as equals.

$ 24,000.00
Youngblood, Nathan – Red & Tan Water Jar with Eagle & Fish

Nathan Youngblood has long created his own “lexicon in clay” with his distinctive designs which pull from Pueblo, personal and cultural experiences.  This stunning water jar is an exceptional shape with a round body, a double shoulder and an elongated neck.  The design is a complicated story of the eagle in the sky and the fish under the water. The fish are swimming and the double shoulder of the jar is set at such a point that it becomes the waves above the fish!  The jar is very deeply carved and the surface is polished a stunning deep red coloration. As the jar is turned the eagle and fish swirl around the surface of the piece. The lowest section of the jar is polished tan.  The scene is a reflection of Nathan’s love of nature and it’s interaction with Pueblo life, culture and stories. While the shape, carving and designing might seem like enough, Nathan also takes his pottery one step further. After it is fired, he uses small screwdrivers and scrapes the sides of the carved designs and the recessed areas, to create a visually striking contrast.  This style has been called, “the new Santa Clara polychrome”, although I usually called it “tri-color” with the variations of red, matte and buff areas. The jar was traditionally fired and the result simply speaks for itself.  Lustrous!

$ 19,500.00
Sale!
King, Charles S., “Spoken Through Clay”

Spoken Through Clay

A NEW  RELEASE SPECIAL:  $95.00, including shipping (US)! Check out the new review in the Denver Post!

 Just a few things which make this book unique!
*   The size!  The book is 11.75″ x 14.25″ and weights over 8 pounds!
*  The photography of the pottery is stunning, emphasizing the individual pieces.
*  Each caption is the artist discussing the individual piece on the page.
*  The artist “biographies” are from interviews with the artists and they discuss their art, culture, lives and history.
*  Organization: The book is not organized by pueblo or family, but entails new ways to think about the future of Native pottery.
*  Printing in Italy gives the book very high quality color and paper.
* The photos of the living artists were taken by Will Wilson using a tin-type process. He was a recipient of the 2107 New Mexico Governor’s Award for the Arts in photography!
*  The book features work by more than 30 contemporary potters and more than a dozen important historic potters.
*  There are essays by myself, Peter Held and Eric Dobkin.  They add to the overall understanding of the project a historic perspective.

_____________________________________________

August 18, Pasatiempo Review

“Charles S. King’s new book, Spoken Through Clay: Native Pottery in the Southwest, The Eric S. Dobkin Collection, is spectacularly heavy —which is a problem from a practical standpoint, because once you open it, you won’t want to put it down. With dreamy tintype artist portraits by Diné photographer Will Wilson, dazzlingly crisp images from Addison Doty, and intimate first-person essays written by dozens of artists, the book is a visually delicious, intellectually consuming foray into historic and contemporary Southwestern pottery. In short, prepare to swoon.

If you’re thinking of this as a coffee-table book, you’ll need to imagine a decently sized coffee table. The book is more than a foot tall and, when opened, two feet wide, but its outsize appearance belies the often delicate beauty of its contents: hundreds of individual pieces of pottery from Eric S. Dobkin’s exquisitely curated collection — arguably the largest and most important of its kind. Gallery owner, author, and Pueblo pottery expert King designed Spoken Through Clay to be approachable for those unfamiliar with Native American pottery. “In the age of social media, I wanted to make the book both visually striking and personal,” King said. The book opens with essays by King, Dobkin, and curator Peter Held, who calls clay “the most archival of materials … seductive, sensuous, responsive, geologic, and malleable.”

“I wanted the end result of the book to be that the reader would connect with the artists in a personal way, beyond just the art, and understand the time it takes to become an artist, to achieve success,” King said. Sprawling yet intimate, Spoken Through Clay introduces its readers not just to the beauty of Southwestern pottery but also to the fascinating stories of the people who make it.Iris McLister, Pasatiempo

____________________________________

“It’s one of the things that makes us who we are. It’s what holds our family together. We are a family of potters. It’s our identity. People don’t realize how much work goes into it just processing the clay and making it. You have to do it with your heart.”—Linda Tafoya-Sanchez

 

FEATURED ARTISTS Grace Medicine Flower • Dextra Quotskuyva • Autumn Borts-Medlock • Jody Naranjo • Harrison Begay Jr. • Jordan Roller • Sara Fina Tafoya • Lonnie Vigil • Margaret Tafoya • Steve Lucas • LuAnn Tafoya • Loren Ami • Toni Roller • Popovi Da • Linda Tafoya-Sanchez • Mark Tahbo • James Ebelacker• Yvonne Lucas • Jeff Roller • Lisa Holt • Harlan Reano • Nampeyo • Jacquie Stevens • Nathan Youngblood • Jacob Koopee Jr. • Jennifer Moquino • Christopher Youngblood • Maria Martinez • Tony Da • Tammy Garcia • Virgil Ortiz • Joseph Lonewolf • Johnathan Naranjo • Nancy Youngblood • Les Namingha • Russell Sanchez • Christine McHorse • Richard Zane Smith • Rondina Huma • Susan Folwell • Dominique Toya • Jody Folwell

Spoken Through Clay features the pottery of iconic Native American artists from historic potters Nampeyo and Maria Martinez, to contemporary potters Tammy Garcia, Virgil Ortiz, and many others, are featured in a new book published by the Museum of New Mexico Press. Spoken Through Clay: Native Pottery of the Southwest showcases nearly three hundred pottery vessels from the acclaimed Eric S. Dobkin Collection, covering a wide range of mostly Pueblo artists from the Southwest.

“The physical scale of the vessels combined with the depth of the contemporary collection [is] breathtaking,” says author Charles S. King. The book is part of a “transitional process of looking to the clay, the vessel, and the potter’s voice and allowing the pieces to stand on the merit of their artistic integrity.”

The book includes portraits and voices of renowned potters speaking about their artistry and technique, families, culture, and traditions. Many of the artists are connected by Pueblos, generations, or family members. Dynamic color photography captures the depth and dimension of the pieces, while the artists provide an illuminating perspective through narrative captions. Artists, academics, collectors, family members, and gallerists add additional insight about the lives, historical context, and importance of these potters and their work.

SPOKEN THROUGH CLAY Native Pottery of the Southwest The Eric S. Dobkin Collection
By Charles S. King Essay by Peter Held

Artist portraits by Will Wilson
ISBN: 978-0-89013-624-9

352 pages, 320 color plates, 40 artist portraits

Publication Date: August 01, 2017
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Charles S. King is the author of Born of Fire: The Life and Pottery of Margaret Tafoya, The Life and Art of Tony Da, Virgil Ortiz: Revolt 1680/2180, and numerous articles on Pueblo pottery. He has served on boards of art associations, judged pottery at prestigious events, and lectures about the art form. His business King Galleries represents many of today’s leading Native potters and important historic works in clay. Charles lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

$ 125.00 $ 95.00
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