Antique Asian Works of Art from Ancient East

Acoma Black on White Kokopelli Coiled Olla, Signed M.C. Antonio

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Directory: Vintage Arts: Regional Art: Americas: American Indian: Pottery: Pre 1980: Item # 1303145

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DESCRIPTION: Some of the most spectacular Acoma pottery pieces are the geometric designs rendered in black on white. This thin-walled, hand coiled olla represents the pinnacle of this category with exceptionally small squares, both white and black, forming intricate mazes across the entire surface signifying rain and lightning bolts. The pot is narrow at the base and gradually widens to the broadest section just before the taper towards the mouth. In a bold stripe from top to bottom, Kokopelli figures (ancient Southwestern Native American fertility deities) play their flutes. The Acoma potter, Melissa Concho Antonio, has masterfully executed a complicated design that requires absolute concentration and precision to apply - and that being done with a paint brush fashioned from the leaf of a yucca plant. It is this willingness to apply difficult designs that distinguish the best Acoma painters. Excellent condition; dating from the last quarter of the 20th C. DIMENSIONS: 7" high (17.8 cm) x 7.25" diameter (18.4cm).

ABOUT THE ARTIST: This visually stunning piece of hand-coiled and painted Acoma pottery was made by award-winning potter, Melissa Concho Antonio (b. 1965), and is a testament of her fine-line painting abilities. Her designs are extremely time-consuming and involve precise calculations and planning. Melissa is of the Acoma Pueblo Red Corn and Sun Clans and has been an active potter since the 1980s. She works with traditional and slip cast polychrome jars, bowls and vases, and is best known for her intricate black on white geometric designs. Her teachers were award winning pottery artists Lilie Concho (her mother) and Mildred Antonio (her mother-in-law), who taught her the traditions of Acoma pottery, from gathering the clay and coiling the pots, to making natural pigments and creating incredibly fine lined designs. Melissa will occasionally accent her pottery by adding a Kokopelli band down the side (as in this example).

Melissa Antonio has won numerous 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards at the Santa Fe Indian Market, the New Mexico State Fair, the Eight Northern Pueblos Arts & Crafts Show, and the Inter-Tribal Ceremonial. She is well known for her creative, perfectly executed graphics. Her traditional, hand coiled pottery is widely collected and included in many known collections. Melissa's work and achievements are highlighted in Dr. Gregory Schaaf’s book “Southern Pueblo Pottery: 2000 Artist Biographies;” Berger and Schiffer’s “Pueblo & Navajo Contemporary Pottery;” and Rich Dillingham’s “Fourteen Families in Pueblo Pottery.”

ABOUT ACOMA POTTERY: Thin, hand fired walls (a common and sought after characteristic of Acoma pottery), light weight, and geometric designs characterize Acoma pottery. The Acoma Pueblo, also known as "Sky City," is located 50 miles west of Albuquerque near Enchanted Mesa, and is one of the oldest continually inhabited sites in North America. The area is home to particularly good clay, which potters mix with a temper of crushed potsherds. This results in the ability to produce very thin and lightweight, yet strong pottery.

Traditional designs range from complex geometrics to abstract animal, floral and figurative forms. Coloration consists predominantly of black and white, or black, white and orange although other colors also appear infrequently. Acoma clay is grey in color and potters achieve their white surface with a slip of kaolin, a naturally occurring chalky material that is a brilliant white. Black is made from crushed iron-rich hematite and/or the liquid from boiled wild spinach, which are often mixed together. There are no schools or universities that teach the complex techniques and skills necessary to make Native American Acoma Pottery. It takes many years to learn, requires much dedication and sacrifice, and is a skill passed down by the elders from generation to generation.