Medicine Flower, Grace – Large Carved Jar with Avanyu, Butterflies & Lid (1985)
This is an exceptional large lidded bowl by Grace Medicine Flower. She began her career making miniature pottery with incised designs. This large piece is from 1985, the beginning period when she was deeply carving her pottery along with utilizing sgraffito designs. The jar itself is deeply carved with a feathered water serpent (avanyu). This style of avanyu was used by her father, Camilio Tafoya and also her brother, Joseph Lonewolf. As the jar is turned there is a small feather medallion with butterflies, There is a second, larger medallion, which also has butterflies and flowers. The lid of the jar is fully polished and also etched with butterflies. Grace said of her carved pottery:
“Once you pick her (the vessel) up, to start designing, whatever comes to your mind is how it’s going to look. To me, I can envision the carving or the plain polish and what it would look like with just one medallion. I do all the sgraffito before it was fired. You have to be so careful. Once you put in the designs, she turns out to be beautiful.” Grace Medicine Flower, Spoken through Clay
One distinctive aspect of this piece is the additional colored clay slips which highlight the design. There was a very brief period when she used clay slips of various colors for her pottery. This one has white, green and blue additional colors added to the butterflies. Grace said that Joseph Lonewolf (her brother) gave her the clay colors and then when she ran out she didn’t get any more. The jar is highly polished and fired a deep red. It is certainly a classic and of her few pieces at this size and with a lid! It is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Grace Medicine Flower”. Note for the signature on the base, there is an incised butterfly along with a flower extending up the side. It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.
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