Artist Media Series
This is a creatively designed jar by Mark Tahbo. He was known not just for his painted pottery, but especially for the blushes on his pottery from the firing. This jar is from 2001. The jar is coil-built and painted with bee-weed and red, white, and burgundy clay slips. It was this style of creative design for which Mark was best known. On the top of the jar, there are four Sikyatki-style birds, two with red heads and two with black. They are inspired by the designs of Nampeyo of Hano. As the jar is turned, the birds either have large accentuated wings or are connected to another bird, accented in white. It is not just the creativity of so many birds, but note how Mark painted them, using the shape of the bowl to create a sense of movement and also surprise when it is turned over! The jar was then traditionally fired outdoors to create the blushes on the surface. Mark was masterful with his firings, hoping to achieve colorations from deep orange to red to white on each piece. This jar has a dramatic coloration from the firing. It is signed, “Mark Tahbo” with a pipe for Tobacco Clan. It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair. A beautiful balance of form and design!
For traditional Hopi-Tewa pottery, there are no shortcuts. I feel that the younger people aren’t as fortunate as I was. I was born at a time when I was with the elder women who revived Hopi-Tewa pottery and brought it to this level. I learned the old style. From how to get the clay, and how to process it, from start to finish. They were simple, maybe even crude ways, but they worked. Today, it seems like the storytelling is almost gone. I always tell younger potters that it’s one of the most important foundations we can have as Hopi-Tewa potters. A story. Something to lean back on. If you don’t have that root or that foundation, you have nothing. You are just floating on your own. Soak it all in and listen to all the old stories that you can. There are just no shortcuts. You have to learn the hard way and have patience.” Mark Tahbo, Spoken Through Clay