Artist Statement

Growing up in Santa Clara Pueblo, in a family whose connection to the clay goes back generations, pottery has always been a part of my life. I was introduced to the art form as a child, making my first formal attempts at claywork
under the guidance of my mother and grandmother.

Working exclusively in the ancient traditional Pueblo technique of coil-building, they shaped bowls, vases and plates from clay they had gathered from the hillsides near the village and processed themselves. Nearby, I sculpted animal figurines and nativity scenes from the moist clay, always welcoming the gentle hands that occasionally reached down to direct or redirect my efforts. These lessons solidified my own connection to the clay, and gave me the skills I needed to move into coil work.

Within a few years I was working alongside my mother and grandmother, making pottery from clay that I was now helping to gather and process. Drawing from the spiritual symbolism and nature-oriented design aesthetics of Tewa culture, we carved the shapes of kiva steps, bear paws, feathers, rain clouds, water serpents and lightning bolts into the surface of the vessels and used smooth stones to polish them to a shiny, mirror-like finish. We waited for a calm, wind-free morning to fire them outdoors in flames kindled by thin, fragrant sticks of red cedar, watching the timing down to the second in hopes of keeping our long-labored creations from succumbing to this always-risky phase of the pottery-making process. Learning directly from these two extraordinary artists was truly a gift, and they remain among my strongest influences even now.

Pottery ties me to an ancient tradition.

It connects me to my ancestors.

Knowing that a thousand grandmothers
did this before me is amazing.

… to have been born into this
heritage is a gift.

Clay

clay-vase-1
clay-11
clay-vase-and-parrot
clay-bird-5
clay-6
clay-7
clay-13
clay-egg-2
Parrot-Effigy
clay-8
clay-1
clay-10
clay-top

Inspiration is everywhere: in the design of a gum wrapper or the pattern woven into a piece of fabric; in the angles of a tattoo, the curve of an ancient Greek vase, or the shape of a cloud; in the gentle motion of eagle and parrot
feathers fastened to the head-dress of a Pueblo dancer.

Galleries/Shows

Santa Fe Indian Market 2017

My focus for this year’s Indian Market is a bronze sculpture featuring the Avanyu (water serpent) and a vase with my signature Dragonfly designs. Also featured at my booth on Saturday and Sunday are new works in clay.

The Indian Market’s location is in Santa Fe, NM which geographically is surrounded by pueblos. To the north and south in the Rio Grande valley are pueblo cultures flourishing today. To the east and west are ruins of the pueblo cultures that once were.

The Avanyu and dragonfly design have long been used in native culture. These designs signify
blessings of abundance and sustenance in life.

Please visit my booth! August 15 thru 20, 2017
Booth #669 Santa Fe Plaza

Bronze

Bronze-Vase-1
Bronze-Vase-2
bronz-6
bronz-dragonfly
bronz-2
bronz-7
Hawk-Bronze

A few years ago I began working on a series of parrot-shaped forms, inspired by my long fascination with the presence of these birds in Tewa art and culture both ancient and modern, and by some similar sculptures my mother made years ago.

Today, I continue to work in the same vein of tradition that instilled my early art education, and through which I am now teaching my own daughter. And though I no longer live in the pueblo, my connection to the Tewa people and culture is sustained by the clay itself: My work is defined more by cultural legacy than by place, more by experience than by genealogy. It becomes part of the larger collective memory of heritage, as has that of my mother and grandmother before me.

Recently I have been working with bronze and I have found that my clay designs are quite suited for that medium too. I’ve wanted to branch out into bronze for a while and am very excited about this new medium. My new creations in bronze are limited editions and each piece is one-of-a-kind because the variations in Patina make each piece unique.

Contact

Autum-with-Parott-Effigy 2

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Autumn Borts-Medlock • PO Box 1291 • Ranchos de Taos, NM 87557