Cordero, Helen – Turtle Storyteller with Four Kids (1960s)
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 is one of her classic turtle storytellers. The turtle storytellers are an important part of her artwork. It tells of the Cochiti legend where a female or “Mother Turtle” comes to rescue the children during a flood. Helen said this was one of her favorite styles to make. The piece is coil built and slipped with white clay and painted with wild-spinach and red clay. The edge of the shell has rain cloud designs. The four children on top are sitting on a red clay rug. They are each holding on to one another. The head of the turtle is turned. There is a feather painted on the back of the head of the turtle. The piece is classic and charming! It was traditionally fired. It is signed on the bottom, “Helen Cordero”. It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair.