1984-01 Laguna Polychrome Seed Pot

Object ID:
1984-01

Artist:
Evelyn Cheromiah

Culture:
Laguna

Dimensions:
4.375" h X 7.50" w

Laguna polychrome seed pot, Evelyn Cheromiah.  I saw her work at Indian Market in 1983 and wrote her asking her to make this pot. See Dillingham (1992) for a discussion of Evelyn Cheromiah: her beginning to pot in the 1970s (p. 183), her leadership in reviving potting at the pueblo (p.199), her sense of the “spirit” in her pots (p. 9) and an illustration of an elaborate olla she made (p. 198).

Al Alexander, Jr. of Adobe Gallery (Santa Fe) provides some additional background on Laguna pottery and Evelyn Cheromiah in particular:

Evelyn Cheromiah (1928-2013)

Pottery production was thriving in the late nineteenth century at Laguna Pueblo because the transcontinental train made a daily stop on its trip from Chicago to Los Angeles and another stop on the daily return trip.  Passengers were allowed to get off the train to make purchases from the Laguna potters and from their Acoma neighbors who made the daily trip to Laguna.

Pueblo pottery making began to decline at Laguna in the early twentieth century, largely because the men were being employed by the railroad, thereby providing cash income for the families.  It was then no longer necessary for the women to make pottery for sale to tourists. They could, and did, purchase pottery from potters at Acoma Pueblo for use in their households. By mid-twentieth-century, men and women were employed by the uranium mines on the pueblo lands, so there continued to be no need to create pottery for sale or for their own use.

Evelyn Cheromiah was an exception.  She was one of the few to continue making pottery.  In the 1970s, she received a federal grant to teach pottery making to others at the pueblo, thus sparking revival in pottery production at Laguna.  Still, today, there are only a few potters there.

Evelyn had continued, in all ways, to construct pottery in the traditional manner.  She collected her own clay, used potsherds for temper, mineral and vegetal paints for the designs, and fired in the traditional outdoor firing technique.  She well demonstrated her abilities in everything she made. Her vessels were well formed, meticulously painted and fired perfectly.

For another mention of Cheromiah, see Trimble (1987:81).

Given that a seed pot is a fecund female image, in 1986 this pot went to live with a Chippewa friend who was fighting leukemia. Although we occasionally check in with each other, the pot has decided to stay on extended loan with her. She is now cancer free and moved to Michigan in 2001 to pursue a graduate degree. Pot power!

Purchase History:
Received during the winter of 1984.