Thursday, September 10, 2009

Midterm Study Image 2009/10 Lucy Lewis

New Mexico, Lucy Lewis, Rounded pot, earthenware/painted decoration c. 1970.

Lucy Martin Lewis (b Acoma Pueblo, NM, c. 1895; d 12 March 1992). Native American potter. As a child she made and sold Acoma polychrome pottery, which by 1900 had deteriorated into tourist wares such as vases and ashtrays, but in the 1930s she began working in the Acoma pottery tradition of the 19th century, making jars with a red-slip base and white-slip body that were decorated with the bird and flower motifs that had been common from c. 1880. In the 1940s she adapted designs from prehistoric ceramics: non-figurative motifs from Hohokam and Anasazi wares (5th–13th centuries) and figurative designs from Mimbres wares (10th–13th centuries). From the former she adopted repetitive fine-line patterning that covered the entire body of the vessel as well as ‘negative’ patterns in white slip against a black painted background with occasional orange accents. Working in the coil-and-scrape method with the dense grey clay of the Acoma area tempered with ground potsherds, Lewis produced miniature pots, seed jars, bowls, animal effigies and water jars, all rarely more than 250 mm in height. Several coats of white slip were applied, and each coat was polished with a wet stone until the slip was opaque. Paints made from ground minerals with a binder of boiled vegetal matter were applied with a chewed yucca-leaf brush. The vessels were then fired outdoors using dried cow dung. Until her death she continued to work at her home in McCartys, NM, assisted by her daughters. (From Groves Art Online)Lucy Lewis is regarded as the matriarch of Acoma pottery and alongside Maria Martinez, is one of the best known Southwestern potters. She started making pottery around the turn of the century, continuing a tradition dating back hundreds, if not thousands of years. Pottery of the Southwest was generally coil built, molded or modelled and low-fired. Lucy derived her designs - painted on with colored slips - from shards found in the Kivas of the pueblo and Anasazi and Mimbres pottery she studied in the Museum of New Mexico. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, including at the Smithsonian State and City Museums, Princeton University and the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. For more information on Lucy Lewis and other Native American Women Potters, have a look at Pottery by American Indian Women by Susan Peterson. (Ceramics Today,

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