Youngblood, Nancy – 16 Rib Swirl Rain Drop Rim Water Jar (2019)
This is an exceptional smaller water jar by Nancy Youngblood. The shape is a classic water jar inspired by the work of her grandmother, Margaret Tafoya, and her great-grandmother, Sara Fina Tafoya. The jar has 16 ribs swirling around the neck down to the base. The technical difficulty of the jar is that it is just the swirl or twist of the rib which defines the shape of the jar! The first swirl creates the neck, then the next the shoulder and the body of the jar! Finally the bottom of the jar. It may seem simple but the artist must know exactly when to start turning the ribs to create the correct balance and flow. The neck of the jar is also fully carved with rounded ribs, which are the “raindrop rim”. Nancy said of this style:
“I got the idea from seeing a picture of Sara Fina’s work. Her jar had a fluted top, and the swirl went from the left to the right and ended at the raised rainbow band on the shoulder. The bottom was plain. I wanted to take the shape and make it uniquely mine so I carried the swirl below the shoulder to the base. I deliberately curved in my fluted rim to make it more distinctive. Technically, this is one of the most difficult pieces to polish because you are continually flipping it around. You polish one side of a rib, and then you have to flip it real fast and polish the other side.” Nancy Youngblood, Spoken Through Clay
It is always technically difficult to create a rim of such complexity and not have it break during the polishing! As well, note the depth of the carving on this piece. The entire bowl is fully polished which takes an extraordinary amount of time. Consider that each rib has two “sides” to be polished and the surface area of the piece is about double its size! Nancy has won numerous awards for her melon bowls and this is undoubtedly a classic of her style, most recently the 2018 “Best of Pottery” at Santa Fe Indian Market. The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay.
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