Jean Sahme NampeyoDimensions:
4.3125” h X 6.8125” w
The shape of this jar is a typical Nampeyo family form, with a short neck, a wide shoulder used for decoration, and the widest girth about 1/3 up from the bottom. The pot fired evenly and without much blush.
Three abstract birds parade around the pot’s shoulder. Two thin framing lines above a thicker line support these images and rest just under the widest girth of the vessel. Each of the three birds is different.
In his book reviewing Nampeyo’s aesthetic, Ed Wade provides a compendium of design elements used by “The Old Lady,” including bird forms. One of these Nampeyo birds is almost identical to one of the birds painted by Jean. Nampeyo frequently drew the body core of her animals using a mosaic of small squares (as on pot 2012-XX) or triangles (as shown in the Wade book) and Jean has adopted that convention on this first bird. The bird sails forward with her plumage swept back by the wind.
The remaining two birds seem to reflect what Wade calls Nampeyo’s “Acoma-style birds” (2012:234-235).
These creatures are more upright and less streamlined than the first bird. They are characterized by vertical necks toped by circular heads. On one, the elaborate body is painted using mostly black paint, with red highlights and an unfurled wing behind her head. The second Acoma-derived bird has a less-elaborately drawn body that is characterized by red feathers and a largely black breast area.
All three of the birds are spirited and exude personality.
Bill Vogel and I visited Jean in her home on 4/1/13. Shortly after Indian Market last year she fell while on a fishing trip with sister Rachel and brother-in-law Claude. As she fell, Jean caught herself with her arms. Being right-handed, the brunt of the fall was taken by her right arm and she suffered a rotator-cuff injury. Seven months later, she is only just now able to start forming pottery. Jar 2013-07 was formed and painted for Indian Market, but Jean was unable to fire it before the show. Recently (in 2013), neighbor and friend Vernida Polacca helped Jean fire this pot.