Youngblood, Nancy – Red 16 “S Swirl” Melon Bowl
This is a classic “s” swirl melon bowl by Nancy Youngblood. The bowl is coil built and each rib is deeply carved into the clay. The depth of the carving and the symmetry of each rib is exceptional. This is certainly one of the enduring aspects of her incredible artistry. Each rib is then polished with a stone to achieve the shine. Although it is a small piece, consider that each rib has two sides and how much surface area there is for this piece! Nancy says she can only polish three ribs in one sitting as they are so time-consuming. She says of her iconic “S” swirl:
This “S” swirl starts with the rib on the right, then it goes to the left, to the right, to the left to the right to the left to the right, and finally to the left. It’s three times on the right and three times on the left. It is extremely difficult to polish because you are moving your hand right to left to right to left as quickly as you can. Then you have to flip the pot over and do it the opposite way. Technically, this is one of the most difficult pieces to polish because you are continually flipping it around. I call that an S swirl. My grandmother was doing pieces a long time ago with that S swirl and so was my uncle Camilo. I saw a piece of my uncle Camilo’s pottery at a gallery here in Santa Fe. It was just a vase, but it had the big swirls on it all the way around. I wanted to make something uniquely mine and not copy theirs so that’s why I created these very intricate swirls.” Nancy Youngblood, Spoken Through ClayNancy Youngblood, Spoken Through Clay
There is something visually striking about the symmetry and depth of her rib pieces and how the light hits the surface. Nancy has a particular stone that allows her to polish so deeply and the piece has a glassy surface. It is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Nancy Youngblood 2021”. While it may be a small piece, it is certainly spectacular and an iconic work by this renowned artist.