Medicine Flower, Grace – Large Carved Bowl with Flute Players & Avanyu (1990)
Grace Medicine Flower began her career making miniature pottery with incised designs. This large bowl is from 1990. It is a period when she was combining carved areas with etched designs. The rim is carved and there is a carved avanyu encircling the piece. However, it is not just the carved rim that is amazing, but how she also carved through the side of the bowl! This is technically very difficult, as it can break in the drying or polishing stage. The carved design is fully polished red. There are medallions with flute players across the piece. The base of the bowl is micaceous and has etched Mimbres inspired ram and deer. Not unexpectedly for Grace, even the bottom is polished red. She always had an eye on the complete composition of a piece and making sure it was not just aesthetically pleasing but also technically precise. Grace said about her carving the rim of her pottery:
“I don’t know how I even started this. This was a new idea to start carving the rim and into the bowl. I was thinking, what would be so different to change her in a way that would be unique. I started cutting areas out, and the more I started the more ideas that came. Have patience, enjoy what you are doing, and really, really talk to the Clay Lady. Like my dad said, prayers and patience..” Grace Medicine Flower, Spoken Through Clay
The bowl is very highly polished and fired a deep red. Interestingly, Grace did all of her etching/sgraffito in the clay before the pieces were fired, which added to their overall difficulty. The bowl is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair. It is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Grace Medicine Flower”. It is intricate, elegant and a stunning piece of history. What amazes me is that thirty years later, there are no other Pueblo artists who are creating a similar style because of the risk and time involved.