Medicine Flower, Grace – Basket Weave Jar with Horses
Grace Medicine Flower remains renown for her innovative and creative pottery. This is one of her dynamic “basket weave” pieces. She only made the basket-weave pieces for a few years before moving on to the full polychrome pottery. The concept behind these pieces was for them to appear as if the clay had fallen away and there was a woven basket underneath. The basket areas are carved vertically, incised horizontally and then painted with a clay slip. This jar has small triangular areas with the basketweave showing through. Note how the basket “coils” are rounded out and then slipped with a red clay to make a design. However, the focus of the jar are the horses. Why horses? Grace said:
“My mom (Agapita) and dad (Camilio) were both potters. Growing up I would just watch them make pottery. My dad was known for his horse figures, and my mom, well, both of them, were known for the deep- carved pottery. They started making that probably in the 1940s. I would watch them, but I never thought of being a potter or anything like that.” Grace Medicine Flower, Spoken Through Clay
The horses are always a connection to the work of her father and even Joseph Lonewolf, her brother. This piece has one large horse, which is polished and etched. There are three other horses carved into the clay. They are highlighted with additional clay slips to create the coloration. Note the various levels of carving on the horses to create the mane and depth in the position of the legs! It is an exceptional piece. There are at least four different layers of carving on this jar.
Did you know that Grace used all the various carving techniques for Santa Clara pottery on this piece? It is carved, incised and sgraffito. The jar also incorporates all the different clay variations available. It has polished and matte surfaces, polychrome (multiple clay bodies used for color) and mica. Grace is one of the only Pueblo potters who has created pieces which have all these various techniques and styles in one vessel.
The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Grace Medicine Flower”. It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair. Grace made very few pieces with horses during her career, which makes this an exceptional piece both in creativity and historically!