2006-09 Jar with Four Abstract Avian Designs

Like Al Qoyawayma’s pot (2006-03), this vase is elegant in both form and design with a beauty that is immediately accessible. The upper red and black design forms a series of four identical abstract birds that flow to the right with red curves that lift the eye toward the mouth of the jar. Centered below these avian images, but flowing over the rim of pot, is a black design of curved wings and linear tails that hearken back to a Nampeyo jar (2005-16). The linear black tails pull the eye straight down and create tension with both the black curvilinear design that surrounds them and the red curvilinear design that form the wings of the four birds.

A unique feature of the design is that, when viewed from directly above, the red corners form an overall square that contrasts with the round pot. This is an additional source of tension and, hence, energy in the design. Like Nampeyo, Gloria effectively has used undecorated background to highlight the design. Like many of the skilled modern potters, her design is almost perfectly drawn. For me, when too perfect, the design of these modern “fine art” pots lose energy, in contrast to the more casual folk art designs of earlier potters. The beautiful but uneven blushing of this pot creates visual variation that keeps the design vibrant.