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Friday Feature: A World That Flowers, Unconstrained

Flowers and Checkerboards Pot Resized - Side View

A bright and gentle dawn has given way to howling winds. The new blooms are being battered, fragile petals and leaves perforated by the abrasive force of a million million grains of sand.

And still, the flowers and leaves flourish.

That is one of the great gifts of this place: In a land of uncertain climate and extremes of weather, a place of hot sun and harsh winds and precipitation that alternates between none and flood, its indigenous spirits have adapted sufficiently that our world may flower and grow.

For the month of May, we are using this space to highlight examples of Pueblo pottery, some eminently traditional, others a more contemporary mix. Today’s featured work falls into the latter category, and yet, it too is grounded, quite literally in the old ways, wrought from rich red earth and water, tempered by fire, adorned with new-growing blossoms by way of indigenous plant pigments. From its description in the Other Artists:  Pottery gallery here on the site:

Flowers and Checkerboards Pot Resized

Flowers and Checkerboards Pot

Camille Bernal (Taos Pueblo) creates a masterwork that blends old traditional shapes with contemporary expressions. Checkerboard patterns in warm red ochre arise and criss-cross like ancient paths from the base of the pot, their lines growing organically into the stems of gently-blooming flowers. Flower groupings are tipped in alternating Santo Domingo White, Laguna Blue-Gray, and charcoal shades. Stands 5″ high by 5.25″ across at the widest point, with a 2-7/8″ opening across the lip (dimensions approximate). Other views shown below.

Tewa clay; plant-based paints
$325 + shipping, handling, and insurance
Requires special handling; extra shipping charges apply

I have always thought that the design of this piece was an apt metaphor for this place: an old-style traditional pot, one with a neck and mouth reminiscent of the ancient ollas that the people used (and still use) to gather, transport, hold, and store water, clad in white robes like dry ash and bone. More, it is adorned with the same artificial boundaries a colonial government has used (and still uses) to contain and constrict people and place, to carve out and break off the land and its resources for its own benefit, to checkerboard the earth in a way that disrupts the land’s own purpose and intent and derails it toward colonial profit.


Flowers and Checkerboards Pot Resized - Top View

And still, the flowers bloom — from, between, among the lines. They recognize neither border nor boundary, sending their pollen offspring across all lines to populate a land they know to be wholly theirs, whatever and whomever else may try to divide it up and close it off.

That is the lesson of our peoples, of our lands, of Earth herself: a world that flowers, unconstrained; a life that flourishes in- and outside the lines.

~ Aji








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