Quotskuyva, Dextra – Bowl with 16 Bird Wing and Bird Tail Designs (1970s)
Dextra Quostkuyva Nampeyo is certainly one of the most influential Hopi-Tewa potters of the last 50 years. Not only has she taught numerous potters (Steve Lucas, Yvonne Lucas, Les Namingha, Loren Ami, Hisi Nampeyo, to name just a few), but her creative designs and forms have dramatically influenced the pottery itself. This is an earlier bowl from the 1970s. It is thin-walled and a classic round shape. This early design is interesting to analyze as it gives us a clue to the importance of Dextra’s later work. The bowl is very round in shape and the painted design matches the form. The piece is painted with bee-weed (black) and a dark red clay. The design is a series of 16 interlocking bird wings. They are painted on the shoulder and area slight derivation in design from the “migration pattern” bird wing. From each of the lower wings, there is a bird tail that extends toward the base. Her designs draw the eye to move around the bowl. She also deftly uses the negative space of the clay to enhance her imagery. There is creative sophistication to the piece, much like in that of Nampeyo of Hano. The bowl was traditionally fired, creating strong blushes on the surface. This bowl is signed on the bottom, “Dextra Quotskuyva (Nampeyo)”. It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair. Definitely a classic of her early work in terms of design and form.
Dextra said of her early pottery:
“I was watching my mom (Rachel Nampeyo) all the time, and I was picking up everything she was doing. I found my own polishing stones. I would collect clays. My mother didn’t like it when I did different types of designs. She was different in her ideas. My mother, she went so far as to say that whatever our great-grandmother had reproduced from old designs—those were important designs. We’re supposed to have the basics, she’d say. The big six. Don’t part from that. The six traditional designs. One of them is the migration design, the eagle feather design, the hummingbird design, the horned lizard, the moth design, and parrots. Those are the ones that started with Lesso and Nampeyo. The designs are mainly from Sikyatki people—it was their pottery that was dug out when they were excavating. They were beautiful designs they had used quite a bit.” Dextra Quotskuyva, Spoken Through Clay