Roller, Jeff – Storage Jar with Bear Paws (2020)
This is a classic storage ar by Jeff Roller. Jeff is a son of Toni Roller and a grandson of Margaret Tafoya. He continues a family legacy of extraordinary traditional pottery. This jar is coil built, stone polished and traditionally fired black. The shape is what is often referred to as a “storage jar”. It has a round shoulder and a short neck and the shape creates a lot of volume for polishing. This jar has two bear paws impressed into the clay. Why the bear paw?
“The story behind the bear paw, according to my grandmother, she said that our ancestors came from Puye, from the cliffs. One time when the people were living up there, there was a drought so bad they couldn’t grow anything. They were so worried. They wondered why the bear was well fed and not thin like they are. So they tracked the bear, and the bear led them to the Rio Grande. The reason we put the bear paw on the pots is to honor the bear that saved the people, the ancestors that came to Santa Clara from Puye. That’s why now most of the Indian people live along the Rio Grande. The bear saved all our ancestors.” Toni Roller, Spoken Through Clay
The simple elegance of the form and design ties the piece to the classic styles of Santa Clara Pueblo and especially the work of his grandmother, Margaret Tafoya. The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Jeff Roller” and dated 2020.