About the Collection

An Introduction from the Collection Owner

2013 24This collection began when a 15-year-old boy from Connecticut discovered a dramatic new world in the American West. Climbing mountains in Colorado and the Tetons in Wyoming; camping at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon; camping at Hopi; living with a family in their summer hogon at Navajo Mountain… it was the summer that the world became a large and exciting place—and the boy became a man.

It is the archetypal American story: the West formed the American character and provides a place for individuals to prove themselves. In this case, the experience also produced two Hopi pots—souvenirs of the trip. One was intended as a trip gift for the parents who financed the adventure, and one was to keep.

Those two pots are the genesis of this collection. The collecting, in turn, has become an excuse to return to Hopi often and come to know Hopi and Hopi-Tewa people, their land, and the institutions they have created. I am generally able to visit Hopi at least once a year (and more frequently in good years). With the passage of time and generations, the connections with Connecticut have faded and northern Arizona is now where I go to relax and renew.

Meanwhile, those first two pots have become more than five hundred pots—including seven generations of one family. What started as a few random pots on a shelf has become a collection with its own internal structure, logic, and website. These pots are linked by material, design, family and culture. I experience the collection as a living being expressing a creative spirit, which I am allowed to taste.

It is a Pahana tradition for outsiders to fall in love with a romantic image of the “peaceful” Hopi and idealize life on the reservation. I know better than that. Yet, Hopi and its people have a special place in my heart. My life and my world would be much impoverished were it not for the experience of that first trip to Hopi and the ensuing dozens of visits back to the reservation.

Now, sixty-one years after that first trip, it is possible to give back some of the delight and beauty that my connection with Hopi has added to my life. When my life is done, the collection described in this catalog, its associated library and various other Native American art will be given to The Hopi Foundation, which has agreed to keep the collection intact. They are locating a museum that will agreed to store (and use) the collection until there is a professional, secure, and functional museum on the reservation. Then, the collection will return home to Hopi.

My hope is that the collection will allow Hopi artists to experience the accomplishments of past generations and be inspired.

My hope is also that a reservation museum might encourage non-Hopi people to visit, learn, and be blessed by the experience…

…As I have been.

— C. O.