2016-07 Red clay bowl with four incised ears of corn

Object ID:
2017-07

Artist:
Gwen Setalla

Dimensions:
2.5” h X 7.5” w

This is a simple, serene bowl that makes an instant and lasting visual impression.

The bowl is formed from sikyatska, yellow clay that turns red upon firing. I’m told that this clay is more difficult to work than the grey clay usually used for the body of Hopi pots. The walls of this bowl are fairly thick for its size and are of even thickness. There is an X-shaped stress crack that penetrates the walls on one side, probably the resulting from the stress of firing.

Four 3-inch long applied corncobs decorate the interior. Each cob has four rows of corn containing 10 or 11 kernels. The cobs are also made of sikyatska clay. The cobs were applied before the interior was burnished with a stone, as can be seen from the parallel grooves from the edge of the bowl toward the center. The exterior burnishing marks are more random.

Decorating a pot with clay forms and without paint is an unusual but not unheard of technique at Hopi. Polingaysi Qoyawayma (2005-08) probably started the technique and was followed by her nephew Al Qoyawayma (2006-03). Both potters pushed out their designs from the inside of their vessels (repouse). Iris Youvella (2003-08) is famous for her unpainted applied corn jars. Her corn is smaller and more delicate than Gwen’s, but the basic technique of the two potters is the same.

Purchase History:
Gwen works as a ranger at Homolovi State Park just north of Winslow, AZ. On 5/12/16 David Gooding, Edward McCartney and I visited the park. I had seen a red clay plate incised with corn by her for sale there several years ago. Regretting that I had not ought it then, I asked Gwen if she could make me one now. She was busy with several shows during the next few months, but fired this bowl on 9/7/16 and mailed it to me the next week. (cashier’s check copy as receipt.)