Quotskuyva, Dextra – “Spirit of the Earth” Fineline Bowl (1982)
This is a tightly painted bowl by Dextra Quostkuyva Nampeyo. She was certainly one of the most influential Hopi-Tewa potters of the last 50 years. Not only did she teach numerous potters (Steve Lucas, Yvonne Lucas, Les Namingha, Loren Ami, and Hisi Nampeyo, to name just a few), but her creative designs and forms have dramatically influenced the pottery itself. The piece is from 1982. It is entitled, “Spirit of the Earth”. Interestingly, there is a piece of paper inside with Dextra’s description of the design. She wrote:
“Four sections of the ear each part has life to its people, animals, birds, trees, flowers, crawling things anything that touches the earth that is nourished by it”. Dextra (1982)
The bow is coil-built, thin-walled and painted with bee-weed and polished red clay areas. The top has a star pattern with a lot of delicate thin lines. The triangular designs in a row are often called “prayer feathers”. The side of the bowl has half polished tan and half matte! The bowl is a creative use of design, color, and form. All the red areas are stone polished. The bowl was traditionally fired to create the blushes on the surface. In the early 1980s, Dextra was innovative with texture, carving, and materials. Think of the time period in 1980, when most Hopi potters were creating a very classic range of designs, and how wild this must have appeared! There is a creative drive to the piece, much like in that of her ancestor Nampeyo of Hano. This bowl 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