Monday, August 27, 2001

It's a potlatch of Pueblo pottery

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer Contributor

        OXFORD — The pottery pieces in a new exhibition speak of the cultures that produced them.

        “Voices in Clay: Pueblo Pottery from the Edna M. Kelly Collection,” at the Miami University Art Museum in Oxford includes more than 100 hand-built objects. The pots and figurines date from the 19th and early 20th centuries and come from seven American Indian villages in the “Four Corners” area of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado.

        The objects are part of Ms. Kelly's extensive collection of American Indian baskets, textiles, jewelry and ceramics.

        “Having an antique shop in Fairhaven, Ohio, I met collectors and dealers of Indian art in my shop,” she said. “When I closed the shop I continued to collect only Indian art material.”

        Museum staff assembled the show with help from pottery experts, including contemporary Pueblo potters Steve Lucas, Elvis Torrez and Robert Tenorio. The three artists understood the language of the traditional pottery, said museum curator Edna Southard.

        “There was a real dialogue going on,” she said. “The pots spoke to them and they spoke about the pots. One of the men placed this large pot on his head and said, "This is the way my grandmother would have carried it.'”

        Ms. Southard explained that the seven villages, separated by distance, bad roads and language, developed distinctive pottery shapes and decorative styles. Differences in local clays and glazing techniques added to the uniqueness of each tradition. From 5-7 p.m. Sept. 12 the museum hosts an opening reception for this show as well as for “From Enoch to Strange Creek,” by painter Michael K. Paxton.


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