Youngblood, Nancy – Asymmetric Swirl and Shell Jar with Lid (2018)
This is an extraordinary tall jar by Nancy Youngblood. The shape is one which has become iconic for her pottery and especially the melon ribs. The straight sides show off all the various designs. On two of the sections there are shells. Why shells? They are often used in Pueblo dances and ceremonies as part of necklaces. The interesting aspect to them on Nancy’s pottery is that each of the sections is rounded out and polished just like her melon ribs! The two other sections have various melon swirl designs carved into they clay. They are more “free form” and ebb and flow to create unique shapes. There are deep ridges and rounded sections. It is a beautiful flow of design on the jar! The background area is perfectly sanded and smooth to contrast with the highly polished sections. This is always difficult as the matte areas can cast shadows if they are note smooth. The lid is also carved with swirls of ribbed designs. Throughout the entire piece the angles of her carving create a strong surface for the reflection of light. Nancy said of this style of her work:
“I’ve had problems that if I carve it too thin, it will break. I’ve had that happen so many times. I get to the end and I’m carving the single ribs and it has an air pocket in it. You wet it with slip and then when you touch it, with the first stroke of the stone, the clay falls off. There’s nothing you can do. It’s a loss.” Nancy Youngblood, Spoken Through Clay
Nancy has won numerous awards, from “Best of Pottery” to “Best of Show” at Santa Fe Indian Market for her melon bowls. This new jar is signed on the bottom in the clay. This is undoubtedly a contemporary classic of her style!