Artist Media Series
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 jar is from 1984. It is thin-walled and the entire surface is fully polished. The jar is painted with two large stylized birds around the sides. The birds are “deconstructed” in the style of Nampeyo. There are the wings, then the tail feathers extending downward, then the head of the bird. The painted designs are accented with polished red areas. The sections with tail feathers have tiny thin lines! Dextra designed her pieces to draw the eye to move around the bowl. She also deftly used the negative space of the clay to enhance her imagery. There is creative sophistication to the piece, much like in that of her ancestor Nampeyo of Hano. The jar was traditionally fired, creating blushes on the surface. The piece is signed on the bottom, “Dextra” and an ear of corn for Corn Clan. It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair. Definitely a classic of her creative clay art!
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